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Sloan Center News

Toward a Multi-generational Workforce

center launches new institute, new research

13 February 2008—Boston College's Center on Aging & Work officially announces the launching of the State Perspectives Institute, a new locus for research on issues related to aging and work as experienced by individuals and organizations within the public sector across the country.

"These are topics state leaders are watching very carefully because 'aging' and 'retirement' have different meanings from state to state," explains Center Co-Director Dr. Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes. "Decisions retirees make, for example, have tangible outcomes that affect the type of services and resources older citizens need.

The Institute’s mission is to gather information and collaborate with state leaders in an effort to leverage today’s multi-generational workforce as a competitive advantage in the 21st century economy. Topics of particular significance to the Institute include the types of innovative policies and programs emerging in the public sector, and how state leaders partner with business decision-makers to develop workforce readiness.

These concerns coalesce in the pioneering "States as Employers-of-Choice" project, a collaborative venture conducted with the Twiga Foundation of Boise, Idaho and sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The broadest intent of this practice-based project is to increase awareness of the aging public sector workforce as well as provide assessment of the readiness of states to be "employers-of-choice" for the public sector workforce. Through the development of practice tools, the project will convene working groups to provide states with technical assistance in promoting workplace flexibility practices for the public sector.

"The Institute is focused on taking the awareness of shifting age demographics to the next stage and helping leaders decide what action steps are appropriate for individual states," says Pitt-Casouphes.

The launch of the State Perspectives Institute is also timed with the initial release of a series of profiles for all 50 states.  Produced in partnership with Experience Wave – an entity dedicated to advancing federal and state policies that encourage mid-life and older adults to stay engaged in work – the profiles provide statistical synopses of each state’s multi-generational workforce in terms of age distribution, labor force participation, industry sector employment, and workforce education and preparedness. The collaboration marks a significant effort by the Institute to include demographic trends among older workers’ in this year’s political conversations.

To date, the Center on Aging & Work has primarily focused on flexible work options in the Business Sector as a means of highlighting innovative employer responses to the aging workforce. However, the impact of key demographic, economic, social and political trends has highlighted the need for comparative research on quality of employment in Business, Public and Non-Profit Sectors. With this in mind, the Center has established the State Perspectives Institute as a means of broadening its consideration of employment experiences as well as of extending the dialogue on our multi-generational workforce into the public policy arena.

"Many issues related to Aging and Work cut across various domains, observes the Center’s Senior Research Associate, Tay McNamara.  Through the State Perspectives Institute we have the potential to address workforce issues on multiple levels in various projects.