Boomers Contributing To Workforce Longer

workingboomersNewsUSA) – Retirement no longer means lazy days gardening or playing chess in parks -; in one survey of Americans aged 50 or over, only one-third planned to retire before 65. One-fourth of the survey’s respondents did not know when or whether they would retire.

Adults turning 60 are the fastest-growing segment of the American population. Boomers will stay healthier and live longer than any previous generation. Some boomers cannot retire due to poor savings, increased living costs and medical expenses.

Other boomers wish to remain involved in their communities. In 2002, AARP surveyed 1,500 workers aged 45 to 74. Eighty-four percent said that they would continue working even if they achieved enough financial security to last their lifetime.

An aging workforce does not mean a lesser workforce. In fact, studies suggest that older workers prove as competent as younger employees. Aging boomers are especially suited for service and knowledge-based jobs, where they can draw from considerable experience.

But the working world does change, and adult workers need continuing education to stay competitive. For this reason, some companies now offer Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs), which can help employees fund extended education. LiLAs work like 401(k)s. Employees contribute a set amount of money from their paycheck employers match that contribution. But instead of using that money for retirement, workers use their LiLA accounts to pay for education and training.

IBM already offers a similar system, “learning accounts.” An organization called the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning has piloted LiLA programs in Chicago, northeast Indiana and San Francisco. New programs are being launched in various sites across the country. A new San Francisco program, in partnership with the Jewish Vocational Service, is targeting mature workers to help expand career opportunities during their “retirement” years.

Higher education can help the boomer generation boost the American workforce for years to come. Congress is considering national legislation that would provide tax credits for employer and employee contributions into LiLAs.

For more information, visit www.lifelonglearningaccounts.org.

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