The world of work has undergone an amazing transformation over the past decade. Change has been visited on how we work, where we work, the type of work we do and even how we find work. In the old “futuristic” cartoon The Jetsons, George Jetson commuted to work via space ship. While space ships might come in handy for many of us during rush hour, such vehicles have yet to become a reality. However it’s interesting to note that George actually went to work. Guess the creators did not foresee the shift experienced by many today who work-from-home.
A change many did not see coming was the Great Recession that befell the country in 2007. Five years later the road back continues to be rocky and slow. Unemployment still hovers around 8+%. These circumstances have been tough for many. Particularly hard hit have been those in mid-forties and beyond.
While many workplace aspects have changed, during these tough times, age discrimination has raised its ugly head in some workplaces. Numerous studies have shown that older workers tend to be more dependable, more efficient, less stressed, and certainly more seasoned. Yet…while firmly illegal, subtle age discrimination abounds. If you are mid-40’s or above and have been having a rough time getting interviews/jobs, you may have been touched by this.
In response, more seasoned employees are looking at alternatives to the corporate world. Entrepreneurship and volunteerism are two areas seasoned workers are considering more often than in the past. Their attention to those alternatives are making some changes as well. New resources have grown to answer new needs. I want to share a few of them with you.
One of my favorite places to visit when I was a child was the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago. The museum had everything—from a submarine to a dollhouse to a huge incubator filled with chicken eggs waiting to hatch. You could stand there and watch a chick emerge from its shell. The incubator protected it while it “got its legs”.
Creative minds in the world of work saw that new entrepreneurs also needed a place to “get their legs”. Entrepreneurial “incubators” are springing up all over the country. These incubators rent facilities to start up companies who do not have the capital to finance their own infrastructure. An example of such an incubator is The Starting Block located in Michigan. The Starting Block offers hourly rentals of shared commercial freezers, ovens and food processors to budding food manufacturers.
Business incubators are not new (the first was begun in Batavia NY in the late 1950’s), but they have found renewed interest. Usually supported by economic development organizations, they offer shared workspace, tools, resources and training seminars. Entrepreneurs submit a business plan with a three to five year timeline after which they are expected to move out “on their own”.
The Peace Corp is also eyeing the changing world of work. In the past, becoming part of the Peace Corp meant leaving your family, friends and lifestyle for at least a two-year commitment. Today, the Peace Corp offers assignments from as short as three months to a year for special-skilled professionals with 10 years of experience in their fields.
Finally, AARP has turned its attention to the online job market and the plight of those over 50 seeking employment as well as the wise organizations seeking to employ them.
Powered by Linked-In, Work Reimagined sponsored by AARP helps connect seasoned workers with companies that have special interest in them. In addition to opportunities, seekers can find information on tools and techniques plus a place where individuals can exchange/discuss ideas. Sample companies include Toys R Us, ManPower, United Health Group and The Hartford.
“The employers at Work Reimagined sign a pledge committing to recruit all age groups,” said AARP executive Adam Sohn in the Oct/Nov 2012 issue of AARP magazine.
If you or someone you know are over 50 and seeking employment, check out workreimagined.org. You may find just the idea (or position) you are looking for. If your organization is looking for seasoned talent, this may be the website for you as well.