Making it easier for people to work longer has been a topic consistently attracting attention from employers, non-profit advocates, and policymakers. Even with historically low unemployment rates pre-COVID-19, older workers struggled to find employment more than their younger counterparts, despite the myriad advantages that older workers can provide. But with the recession brought on by the pandemic, early indicators suggest that older workers will struggle to find work. During the Great Recession, it took unemployed older workers twice as long to find work as their younger counterparts. And more than ever, older workers are seeking jobs they can perform from home, which may limit employment options still more. COVID-19 complicates the situation further, not only in the lack of predictability of any economic recovery, but also in the categorization of older employees as ‘at risk.’
In this climate, certifying employers as “age-friendly” has become more important than ever before. The Certified Age Friendly Employer program, an initiative since 2005 of the Age Friendly Foundation, recognizes employers that welcome older workers. Non-profit organizations such as Changing The Narrative and The Frameworks Institute have partnered with the Age Friendly Foundation in promoting certification of Age Friendly Employers, while also working to change the way we think and talk about ageism to promote more productive policies and practices that leverage the strengths and talents of older people. We hope to find other qualified groups around the country/world who are interested in partnering with us to expand certification of age friendly employers and promote the importance of expanded access to employment for older workers.
Policy makers, non-profits and employers themselves need to recognize, advocate for and foster the participation rate of older adults in the labor force. They can accomplish this through more prominent awareness about the importance of employing older adults and recognition of employers who value older workers. The benefits of working longer are significant, and we need to do all we can to support continued workforce participation, especially as crises like the COVID-19 pandemic make it ever harder for older adults to remain employed. If you are interested in pursuing an affiliation with The Age Friendly Foundation in order help expand the CAFE program to include employers in your area, please contact Executive Director Amanda Henshon (firstname.lastname@example.org).