Don’t Take Older Workers for Granted

They say you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone. I can personally relate to that. My grandmother passed away last year and now that she’s no longer here, I wish I had taken advantage of more opportunities to learn from her wisdom.

Many businesses are experiencing their own losses – with the impact felt more on their bottom lines than in their hearts – as seniors retire from the workforce and take their knowledge with them.

Addressing the shrinking and aging of the nation’s workforce is at the center of the Workforce Wise initiative, launched by the Chamber in December 2009. We’re covering this topic with a five-part series in BizVoice® magazine. The current issue features the second installment, which focuses on training opportunities for older workers.

Sometimes, downsizing or a desire to switch careers prompts seniors to pursue training. Often, this happens in the manufacturing field, where people need to upgrade their skills to meet the increasingly complex demands of new technology. Higher education institutions often partner with companies and individuals to provide the training. Ivy Tech Community College’s work in this area is highlighted in the story, along with an organization called Experience Works, which delivers training and employment assistance to low-income, unemployed individuals age 55 and older.

What I miss even more than my grandmother’s cooking (she always lamented that her food didn’t turn out well while the rest of our family members were clamoring for her recipes), is her wisdom.  “What you worry about today, you’ll laugh about tomorrow,” she would say. That was one of my favorites.

Perhaps companies that prepare now for the retirement of older workers will have the last laugh.