Experience and Education Counter Age Discrimination

Experience and Education Counter Age Discrimination

If you're a member of the baby-boom generation, you can combat long-term unemployment and age discriminatory hiring practices by staying on top of new trends and continuing your personal development.

The retirement age is climbing as older Americans today work longer than in generations past. Not only are they staying in the labor force longer, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that starting in the early 2000s, full-time employment for people age 65 and older surpassed part-time. That gap continues to widen thanks to the shaky economy.

A problem older workers face is reentering the workforce after periods of unemployment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study in April that reports, “long-term unemployment rose substantially, and at a greater rate for older than younger workers. Last year, 55% of unemployed older workers actively sought a job for more than half a year (27 weeks or more).”

As the job market slowly improves, though, there is a positive outlook for older workers. BLS survey data collected between January 2010 and May 2012 shows that 69% of a 4.3 million increase in employment came from those ages 55 and up.

Peter Weddle writes on CareerCast.com that Baby Boom generation workers can tackle the problem of resume gaps with personal development. In fact, personal development via education goes well beyond bridging resume gaps. It’s also a necessary tool in today’s job market. An estimated 63.3% of the Millennial generation has at least a bachelor’s degree. Millennials also rarely have families to support, which gives them greater flexibility on both hours and pay.

Those can be tough qualities for veteran workers to overcome. Staying abreast of the modern skills that employers typically seek from younger workers is crucial, and is one area where young workers simply cannot match their more seasoned counterparts.

An often cited difficulty that employers face is the so-called skills gap. Years of applicable work experience builds attributes for an older job seeker that those just entering the workforce are simply unable to match. Filling free time with classes on graphic design, web programming, or even a second language provides another tool that beneifts a job seeker who is already equipped with invaluable experience. It also shows that you have the initiative to improve your skils when many others rest on their laurels, a key attribute in the job market.