Many workers need and want to continue to work during the traditional retirement years. But how long you work is not always within your control. A recent Urban Institute forum asked experts to explain how older Americans can enhance their employability. Here are some of the recommended strategies to stay employed during the traditional retirement years.
Hold on to your current job. The most straightforward way to continue to work into your 60s or 70s is to remain in your current position as long as possible. Make sure your employer knows that retirement is not a near-term goal and that you want to continue to participate in new projects and train for new opportunities. Also, offer to pass on your acquired skills to younger workers to help retain institutional knowledge. “Labor shortages are going to have employers touting the advantages of older workers to the world, or if not that, at least urging us to stay on a little bit longer because they need us,” says Sara Rix, senior strategic policy advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute. Point out some of the reasons you remain valuable to your employer.
Improve your computer skills. Continuously updating your computer skills is essential to retain your current job or land a new one. “It’s virtually impossible today to find a job without having computer skills,” says Ilene Rosenthal, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging. Take advantage of any computer training programs your current employer offers. If that’s not an option, seek out computer courses in your area. Holly Hudson, director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program at the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, recommends looking for free or low-cost courses at senior centers, libraries, and career centers.
Retrain for a growing career field. If remaining employed in retirement is a necessity, you may need to retrain for a career that will be in demand in the near future. “The aging of the baby boomers will require and demand ever more long-term services and supports,” says Joe Angelelli, Pennsylvania state director for PHI. Job openings for positions that cater to the older population are likely to increase significantly now that the baby boomers are beginning to reach retirement age. “We can expect something of an explosion in the demand for direct care workers over the next decade,” says Rix.