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AARP and those boomers, recareerers and home-related professionals

Thinking about 'recareering?' You and many others.  In April 2009, AARP published a report called 'Older Workers on the Move: Recareering in Later Life', a term the study equates with 'occupational change' and 'career change.' This Urban Institute research noted that 43 percent of Americans working full time at ages 51 to 55 subsequently change employers, and 63% of those job changers move into new occupations, including less demanding, lower paying, and self-employment, and also as part of a gradual transition into retirement, 'placing a high premium on escaping from the 9-to-5 grind'. Okay, hold that thought.

"The great things about existing homes is that they exist."  Hard to argue with that point on page 34 of the Electronic House Expo guide, just held in Orlando, where the custom home electronics industry receives training and grabs much-needed new ideas to expand their installation and service business. GrandCare Systems sponsored an exhibit cluster of aging in place technology for the CEPro agenda, placing it within the EHX-described home health opportunity. Home automation, home security vendors, and local audio integrators are eager to expand their businesses as home owners stay longer in their own homes. Let's also remember that architects, builders, and interior designers see retrofit opportunity inside existing homes - and offer Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) training to help designers expand their businesses. Now hold that thought.  

Meanwhile, back over with AARP.  AARP is hosting Work@50+ job fairs in multiple states, including many states, like Florida, Ohio, and Michigan,  with high unemployment rates. The objective: "career counseling, job-hunting strategies, networking tips, and information on how to effectively market your skills and experience."  Partnered with EmploymentGuide.com (which includes virtual job fairs) and WiserWorker.com, a number of the career fairs may be for workers of all ages, but they also include special seminars for older individuals who want to hone their job-seeking skills as well as meet hosting employers seeking new workers. 

Putting all this together...older workers should serve older people in existing homes. So recareering baby boomers and retirees want to work at something less taxing than their previous 9-5 jobs, consumer electronics and homebuilding professionals are seeing ways to expand their businesses by serving existing homes, and AARP and partners are hosting job fairs to help older workers find skills and new work. Maybe I'm seeing things, but AARP and its job partners should offer training programs for recareering boomers and retirees to learn about the consumer electronics and home redesign worlds, helping professionals offer integrated services in local areas to an aging population that doesn't want to move -- and needs services in and around home electronics and physical design changes. 

Coordinate among professional organizations.  You seem doubtful. But why can't older workers and retirees learn how to serve their neighbors -- who live in all of those existing homes? Here's an excerpted list from EHX:  'Medical/PERS, IT service, remote energy monitoring, personal concierge service, and alarm system monitoring.' And CAPS, which includes 'performing a needs assessment to identify and prioritize the needs, wants, and wishes of the Aging in Place client. ' Even if the recareering folks don't have the specific technical skills, perhaps they can help professionals sell these services to their peer group through neighborhood associations and community centers. CEPro and NAHB members should partner with local AARP career programs to think about coordinated services, training and work opportunities -- where professionals find workers....and ultimately, customers.


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Synthesis of two good ideas to make a very large one, that could help a lot of people. 'Recareering' is a retirement job for some, necessity for others. Let's hope that AARP is listening.

They are not thinking creatively with the job fairs they've got right now. I looked at the lineup for the one they're doing in NYC April 12. A thin lineup of companies consisting of the usual suspects--insurance companies looking for sales reps, one trade school, two home care agencies (for customers or workers?), and surprisingly, the USAF and the NY Army National Guard (reenlistment anyone?) Looking at this just brings home that 'career fairs' are not a great use of time.

My husband Fred's laptop started acting strangely on Friday, so I called our local Computer Doctor - Ron Elkin. He's a former DECie in Professional Services who is making house calls for tech issues these days and is self-employed. Fred felt good being able to talk non-technically with a computer professional who was roughly our age and not rushed to leave for the next appointment. I don't know if Ron would consider himself re-careered, but he certainly helped us with both his technical knowledge and his demeanor. The fact that he'd make a trip to Gloucester on a Saturday afternoon certainly helped as well.

And this just in:

New Hampshire and Vermont are seeking stimulus funds to retrain information technology workers to teach elderly patients to use new telehealth technologies. Retrained IT workers act as 'mentors' to help use telehealth tools -- expected to create 50 jobs.



I retired from Avaya in 2000. I sold call center services and staffing for 30 years. One of the key "frustrations for many call centers is "the elderly". Although they are excellent customers, great repeat clients and excellent referral sources, they take a lot of time to handle. A call center has metrics based on number of calls handled, length of call, time on hold, call backs and many others. The elderly customer destroys those metrics. This sometimes results in agents becoming short or iritated, it can also lead to high turn over in the call center job. What if the elderly could be identified when they call in and then forwarded to an "elderly agent" perhaps in an assisted living facility or working from home? (this is technically possible today) Would they receive more empathetic service? Would they buy more? Interesting. Naturally, I don't want to cause additional stress for the elderly call center agent but many would be very happy to handle calls for two hours a day or weekends or special events. Has anyone tried this?

Paul, we actually had a vision of 'seniors helping seniors' for one of our customer service models here at MyGait and after a good trial run, we had to move this concept from their homes to our office. You're exactly right about the technology being out there for older adults to work from home answering calls and working on computers. We found the at home software to be very user-friendly and easy to learn. The initial response to this vision was also well received and we had a decent selection of applicants. The problem we experienced was that they couldn't resolve the majority of our customers' issues. This was primarily due to our our computers being so specialized that it was difficult to train on the overall knowledge of the product. We have definitely seen the benefit of having everyone working under one roof and it's mainly due to the ability to have instant trainings and knowledge sharing rather than trying to do this with everyone at their own home when time allows. You're also right about the two hours a day shift, but staffing a full schedule around two hour shifts can also be a challenge. Seniors are out there and willing to work, it's just figuring out the details in making it a win-win for them and the companies needing their services.

I agree with Paul's point re the typical call center metrics (having observed and worked with reservation centers for over 15 years) but with a 'senior desk' you can change the metrics (as Avis did back in the day with international and travel agents). Re Chuck's comment, one is the exposure to the knowledge only available in the office, and there may also be a preference for seniors to be in an office and 'go into work' as opposed to working from home. It's a big change for anyone but especially for an older age group to work remotely.

I agree with you, there is no reason why someone who is aging cant recareer. I did it, I bet many more out there can do it too. It wasnt easy for me.