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Sloan Center News

State Agencies Lead in Awareness, Lag in Change to Aging Workforce

8 March 2010—As the population ages, employers across many sectors are primed to face workforce shortages. And because the public sector workforce is aging more rapidly than the private sector, state agencies are at a greater risk of losing key talent in the coming years.

State agencies "have been experiencing these shifts of the aging of the workforce actually a little bit ahead of the private sector, so it seemed to be a very important part of the workforce that we wanted to be able to offer support and be able to gain some new insights into what they were doing,” says Center Director Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, in a recent article by Alexandra Bradley in T+D Magazine highlighting results from the Center's States as Employers-of-Choice study.

"While state agencies excel in both their awareness and assessment of the impact of the aging workforce on their organizations, they have found it more difficult than the private sector to implement change," writes Bradley.

“I do think some of the assets that older workers can bring during difficult periods may have become more visible to employers [during the economic downturn],” says Pitt-Catsouphes. “Essentially, it may be due to the experience of having been through previous recessions that older workers were able to sustain that level of feeling engaged.”

"The workforce as a whole will be affected by this demographic shift, but trainers must be especially strong in their ability to adapt," writes Bradley. According to Pitt-Catsouphes, trainers need to realize how the workforce 'landscape' has changed and be mindful of the implications these changes can have. This means using age-responsive strategies and approaches to address older workers' needs, explains Bradley, and creating flexible training options that can be adapted to the work options implemented by organizations.

"There are many positive consequences that could result from an end to mandated retirement."

» Read more at T+D Magazine Online