This past weekend, troubled automaker DaimlerChrysler announced restructuring plans that offer incentives to its most experienced workers to leave. A couple of days later, the company made buyout offers to its union workers. The fate of the auto giant isn’t exactly clear, but what is crystal is the human side: a large number of ex-autoworkers who are way too young to retire. Despite everything we know about labor shortages, certain businesses believe they have no choice but to cut jobs in order to remain profitable and people 50 or better usually take the hit. It’s a prime example of short-term thinking.
The truth is, downsizing isn’t the only change agent operating in the workplace. Burn out and discontent with corporate life is fueling the trend to recareer to something more personally fulfilling. Downsized workers with generous buyout packages will swell these numbers. If you happen to be a career counselor, coach or other professional trained in helping people assess their skills and untapped talents (or want to be), that could be good for your career.
It’s only a matter of time before older workers become sought after — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2012, workers 55 and older will grow to 19.1 percent of the total workforce — and that will make your job a lot easier. In the meantime, how can you best position yourself to serve this potentially large market? How will you connect with these folks and attract them to the services you offer? Here are a few thoughts:
1. The stigma once attached to job-jumping is long gone. Serial careers are the norm, in fact, people who have developed skill-sets across a number of industries will be seen as flexible and adaptable, two traits in demand in a fast-changing work environment.
2. Many people who want to start a new career will head right back to school. Your community college could be the ideal place to offer a course or workshop.
3. Centers that cater to the needs of people 50 and older are offering outplacement services, e.g. Scottsdale Boomerz, a program of Next Chapters. Check out their courses and workshops for ideas.
4. Add certification as a 2young2retire facilitator to your credentials as a coach, social worker or career professional. Learn a process that helps people in the age group get clear about the work they want and how to take steps in making it a reality.
5. Educate yourself on this broad trend. What are the thought leaders in your community saying about recareering? Read the local papers. Check out the chamber of commerce.