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The Workplace is going Grey

by Teena Rose, President of Resume to Referral, an Executive Resume Writing Service.

A popular perception in the workplace has always been that employers were all too eager to offer early retirement packages to encourage older workers to step aside because of their salary and benefit costs to the company. That perception may be on the way out, as the greying of the baby-boomer generation is poised to leave American companies short-handed.

Concern in the U.S. and abroad is quickly approaching a watershed moment as employers are staring a shortage of workers right in the face. In 2011, the Employment Policy Foundation expects there to be 4 million more jobs than workers. That number is expected to rise to 35 million unfilled jobs by the 2030.

The outcome, experts say, will be more seniors remaining or returning to a job site that will include many more post-65 workers. The terms blue-collar and white-collar workers will be joined by a new adage. The silver-collar worker.

With 76 million people in the baby boomer generation (1946-64) and just 45 million Gen-Xers, the numbers define a clear gap that will need to be filled using various strategies, including extending the typical working life beyond 65 years as advocated for years.

The trend has become so pronounced, companies have formed partnerships with the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) to create a Featured Employers community, which highlights employers who are senior-friendly. Some of the companies include big names like Home Depot, Walgreen's, Verizon and MetLife. As demand increases, AARP expects the list of employers eager to hire older workers will grow substantially.

According to networking website ExecuNet, industries where seniors are seeing the biggest gains include health care, high tech, financial services, business services and defense/aerospace. And the three biggest industries where huge future gaps are expected, include retail sales, registered nurses and postsecondary teachers. Retaining or hiring older workers also gives employers the loyalty advantage.

According to a recent study, workers age 55 to 64 have been in their jobs three times as long as their younger counterparts. The study, released late last year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed that 25-34 year-olds averaged 2.9 years at the same job, while 55-64 year-olds averaged 9.3 years. Since turnover is costly, and the glut of workers is expected to rise soon, the retirement-age worker may hold more advantages than the recent college graduate.

"We've definitely seen that older workers are more loyal," Astra Group consultant Sara Jung told "Younger workers are more likely to jump ship if they get a more attractive offer."

Another trend focused on recently by Time magazine is the "bridge job." Before going into full retirement mode, many workers over 55 are slowing instead of stopping their careers with part-time jobs of full-time jobs for typically less than a decade.

Not only will companies need older employees. Older employees will need the companies, and the income they provide.

"In the next five to 20 years, we're going to see a lot of people who think they're going to be ready for retirement, and all of a sudden they're going to work out the numbers, look at how much money they've saved and realize, 'I can't retire,' " Bouchey Financial Group CEO Steven Bouchey told the Albany Times Union in January. "I always say that everybody dreams about retiring on a hill overlooking a lake. Many people are going to be retiring in a trailer overlooking a swamp."

Teena Rose, Book Author, Columnist,Resume Writer,Career Specialist, 1999 - Present. Provide resume writing and career services to an array of career professionals, ranking from new graduates and entry-level jobseekers to business owners and executives. Target advice and coaching services to give jobseekers a leg-up against "the competition."