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It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boomer Career Issues -- An Issue in the 2008 Election Year...

Amy Zuckerman (my co-developer of the virtual business and career survey running on Eons.com) has just passed along her breaking press release -- and you're reading it here first. (If you scroll down, down, down, you'll find yours truly quoted -- always getting a word in on behalf of the 50 plusser jobseeker!)


Warn of an "Avalanche of Need" that Could Sweep the U.S. For Financially Strapped Boomers

Burke, Va. - Jan. 24, 2008 -- With the U.S. and global economy gyrating, national experts in career transition and the virtual, home-based workplace are urging all presidential candidates to place the needs of retiring boomers among their top priorities, particularly in regard to career retraining, small-business development and management support where there is evidence of growing demand for assistance.

Don Wilson, president and CEO of the Association of Small Business Development Center Network (ASBDC), representing 1,000 service centers nationwide that provide no-cost consulting and low-cost training to half a million small businesses annually, says he is grateful for this year's $10 million increase to ASBDC's budget. However, he points out that the amount is a drop in the bucket compared to demand his centers are starting to experience from retiring boomers seeking help starting or growing small enterprises to augment their incomes during retirement.

"The candidates are talking about education and here we are offering education for businesses," said Wilson, adding that the ASBDC was level-funded from 2000 until 2007. Despite the recent budget increase, he said in today's dollars ASBDC needs at least $115 million "to have the same buying power as we did in 2001. We actually served fewer counseling clients at a national level in 2006 (no numbers were available for 2007), which was down from 2005," and this is despite the fact that the first wave of boomers hit retirement age in 2007.

"For the past five or six years, we've been seeing an increasing number of older Americans coming in. As they reach retirement age, they want part-time work, or they say they want to start a home-based virtual business, a small manufacturing, or retail brick and mortar business," explained Wilson. Many have broad experience or great skill sets, "but need business management knowledge," he said, adding that "this does not come automatically."

By virtual business, Wilson is referring to a small business that relies on advanced technology to operate, whether from a home, a rental office or elsewhere.

Georgianna Parkin, vice-chair of ASBDC's board of directors and state director for the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (SBDC), is also witnessing "a continual increase each year among boomers who want to start a business. Some expand from hobbies, some for social reasons and others due to a perceived need in the market."

When asked if SBDC funding was adequate to meet projected boomer career or business counseling needs nationally, Parkin said "absolutely not." She pointed out that it was "critical to keep these boomers employed and active contributors to the economic base. Otherwise, we could have a population in debt, as well as ignoring the tremendous talent this population possesses."

Those serving boomers on websites and in private practices are equally concerned, particularly given the many boomers who are purported to be in debt. Amy Zuckerman, an award-winning author and consultant based in Amherst, Mass. who was recently profiled on CNN.com (12/17/07), warns candidates of an "avalanche of boomer need" that is about to sweep the country. Through the many blogs and groups she manages on boomer social networking sites such as EONS.com, Multiply, and TeeBeeDee.com, she is encountering many older boomers struggling to survive on Social Security and dwindling revenue.

"With boomers starting to retire in 2007 and many in debt, I am deeply concerned about the future. While the media and candidates are focusing a great deal on health care, which is positive, they are missing the enormous need for career retraining, as well assistance to the millions of boomers who are telling pollsters they intend to start their own businesses during retirement," said Zuckerman who also writes the blog: "Living a Virtual American Dream" (http//:www.virtualdream.amyz-blogspot.com).

She points to new data from a pilot Virtual Business and Careers survey currently housed on her EONS.com "Building a Virtual Company" group page (URL below). Preliminary findings, based on a sampling of EONS members, indicate that 77 percent of EONS respondents plan to operate a small, home-based business during their retirement years.
(The survey can be found at http://www.eons.com/survey/welcome/10.)

Although numbers from mid-December to the first week in January were based on a sample of only 170, they correlate with earlier polls by Yahoo.com and MassInc's Commonwealth Magazine, as well as anecdotal reporting from Newsweek's "Boomer Files." All of these regional and national sources have indicated that a majority of boomers - between 60 and 75 percent - plan to run home-based, virtual companies of various types when they are in retirement.

"The problem for many boomers, particularly those who have always worked for an employer, is that they don't have a clue about how to make money outside of a full-time job," said Zuckerman, who was the Small Business Administration's 2005 Home-Based Business Champion for New England and Massachusetts. "They don't know how to manage their time, manage technology, or market themselves. And many are falling prey to scam artists promising them a solid income from web-based schemes."

Zuckerman says she is pleased to see a new bill - The Parents' Tax Relief Act of 2007 - including tax incentives for those working at home. However, she points out that polls she has conducted with the members of Hidden-Tech (www.hidden-tech.net), an organization she founded in 2002, and from interviews nationwide, indicate that many boomers and others are operating virtual enterprises outside the home. "I'm concerned that that this bill will not assist many in the burgeoning virtual economy who do not operate strictly from their homes," she explained.

"The government," Zuckerman said, "needs to drastically beef up funding for boomer retraining through the ASBDC's small business development centers, as well as the SCORE program. And Congress needs to redraft the U.S. Census to gather data on the virtual economy, as a whole, and not focus solely on home-based companies."

Wendy Spiegel, founder of GEN PLUS (tm) - Reinventing 50 Plus (www.genplususa.com) in the Los Angeles area, cautions that "over the past several years of receiving e-mails from mature workers desperate for employment, it is clear that we are still five years or more away from large numbers of employers being truly willing to hire-or recruit for-a 50 plusser." Spiegel, who authors the popular Gen Plus blog (http://genplus.blogspot.com) and, like Zuckerman, has been an expert blogger on EONS.com, collaborated with Zuckerman in developing the survey that appears on the EONS.com site.

She believes that "as a result of the employment challenges and lack of financial security facing the mature worker, more and more jobseekers are going to have to find alternative ways to make a living. Multi-channel careering is going to become the new boomer trend, and that includes a significant increase in virtual industry, flex jobs, telecommuting, and virtual contact center positions."

On the flip side of the job coin, businesses will be "facing a massive talent shortage as all these boomers move out of full-time employment," said Charlie Grantham, co-founder of Work Design Collaborative and the Future of Work program with bases in California and Prescott, Ariz. "Companies will have to turn to the boomers as a part-time labor force," he said, "but the boomers won't be willing to commute to central-city corporate offices. We're going to have to learn how to manage a widely distributed work force whose members have a very different set of values and expectations about how, when, and where they work."

"We need a ton of new public policies to deal with this massive transformation in the workforce," argued Jim Ware, co-founder with Grantham of the Work Design Collaborative and the Future of Work program. "Work force development programs will have to include post-65ers, and we should be rethinking Social Security, health care, and 401K programs to be sure they meet the needs of both employers and all these 'free-agent' seniors," he says.


mickie said...

I'm a 50+ female with an accomplished resume. I never really thought that looking for a new career to transition my skills into was going to be so frustrating.I had over 11 interviews last year. I was told each time that I was impressive- however in the end I was not "the one". And recently was terminated from a job in which I was a top producer but stood up for myself within a corporate environment where my direct bosses and co-workers were between 21 and 40 years old. Now I face once again the open job market. Interestingly, my daughter who is a 25 year old college graduate, recently moved cross country; worked for a company for less than 1 year and most recently went on two job interviews and was given two offers. It was not until this reality hit me in the face, that I now realize how employees view the "mature" worker. I know that I look younger than my actual 50+ age, but look older than 42. It is very disheartening to learn that the workplace is placing more emphasis on being youthful than being experienced.
I would love to hear from other boomers on their experiences and how they have overcome this problem.

Wendy, founder, Gen Plus said...

It is shocking isn't it? When you know you have a skill set and you are judged on age...it is a real smack in the face. I run the Careers for Boomers and 50 Plus group on Eons and hear stories every day along the same lines. Readers of this blog send me emails about their challenges in job search.
Bottom line, the game is different after 50. You have to apply to that many more jobs, find the industries that are interested in mature skill sets, and be as creative as possible in finding ways to re-tool your resume, rebrand your presentation, and honestly, knock on that many more doors until one opens. The glass ceiling now applies to 50 plus.

Lord said...

Nice post. Really liked it..
Don't forget to update it regularly.
I am looking for new updates dieing to read more stuff from you ..

Aims at helping the Fresh Graduates, Engineers, MBAs to get jobs in good companies

Anonymous said...

The careers services office at the university at which I work, is charged with helping fresh grads get jobs. It's amazing to me that these kids' starting salaries are way higher than anything we earn after all these years, despite the fact that these kids are totally inexperienced in both business and human terms.

The fact is no-one is going to insert a 50-plusser into a team of 20-somethings. And no-one is going to allow 50 plussers to access internships to learn/practice new skills. I don't even think 30 or 40somethings like having 50 somethings on their teams. And with less people able to actually retire, folks are going to be working till they drop. The cheap jobs that DO accept older people (sometimes) are killers... (supermarkets, fast foods, etc.)

It seems to me that the boomers need to set up their own (huge) international skills bank. Entrepreneurs - either from within the group or external to it - should be charged with (1) developing innovative business ideas manned exclusively by 50 plussers within this bank, and (2) hiring out "members'" expertise on an hourly or contractual basis (some affirmative action tax breaks would help).

Or of course the government could assure that we have a "health system" and "insurance companies" that simply don't/won't cover the majority of us, so we all end up dying ASAP... (Ah... they did that already).