Employer Strategies for Responding to an Aging Workforce

Employer Strategies for Responding to an Aging Workforce

by Francine M. Tishman, Sara Van Looy, and Susanne M. Bruyère

Executive Summary

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued in 2006, the number of workers over age 55 is projected to increase significantly over the next 20 years, with this demographic group projected to comprise as much as one-fifth of the nation’s workforce by 2015. The unprecedented aging of the world’s population and the strong correlation between aging and disability challenges many institutions, labor markets, and public pension programs.

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The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey issued a subcontract to Cornell University, ILR School, Employment and Disability Institute, to conduct research to explore how public- and private-sector employers are preparing for an increasingly older workforce that is likely to be a workforce with more disabilities. This work has been conducted on behalf of the NTAR Leadership Center, a technical assistance and research center housed at the Heldrich Center and supported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

In meeting the objectives associated with this project, the research team reviewed select recent academic, legal, and related literature on public- and private-sector employer strategies to prepare for an aging workforce. The team also interviewed national experts and thought leaders in the field of employer strategies for addressing an aging workforce, as well as specific public- and private-sector employers recommended by the national experts. The interviews contained questions about promising employer strategies to recruit, retain, train, and promote and enable bridges to retirement for older workers with disabilities. The report also provides numerous examples of successful public- and private-sector retention initiatives that suggest a needed policy platform to facilitate replication.

This literature and legal review, along with the recommendations gathered through individual interviews with leading, national experts on the aging workforce, gives credibility to the dialogue currently under way in Congress and in the media about the viability of the Social Security system given the large number of retired Americans and the number projected to retire within the next 10 to 20 years. Experts recommend that both public and private research efforts be directed to investigate the impact of changes in public policy (i.e., increasing the minimum retirement age, providing incentives to older workers to remain employed longer, and offering employers payroll incentives to hire and retain older workers). Understanding the high correlation between aging and disability, experts also suggest examining and documenting the cost, provision, and efficacy of accommodations from the business perspective.

How is “Disability” Is Defined Differently in Federal Laws for Children & Adults?

How is “Disability” Is Defined Differently in Federal Laws for Children & Adults?

Pathways for Disabled Students to Tertiary Education and Employment: Country Report for the United States

This document is the Country Report produced by the United States in the context of the EDPC activity on Pathways for Disabled Students to Tertiary Education and Employment. It is one in a series of Country Reports prepared by the countries participating in this activity. Each Report is published under the responsibility of the country that has prepared it and the views expressed in this document remain those of the country author(s) and not necessarily those of the OECD or its member countries.

Structure of Education in the United States

In the United States, the laws that apply to youths with disabilities in compulsory education may create distinct rights and obligations from those that apply to individuals with disabilities once they enter tertiary education and employment. Compulsory education includes primary school (most often called elementary school), middle school, and secondary school (commonly referred to as high school). Tertiary education, which is optional, is quite separate from compulsory education as far as admissions, curriculum, governance, finance, and policy. Tertiary education includes nondegree programs that lead to certificates and diplomas plus six degree levels: associate (a 2-year degree), bachelor‘s (a 4-year degree), first professional, master‘s, advanced intermediate, and research doctorate (3 to 6 years). The following website provides more information on the structure of education in the United States:
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-structure-us.html .

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Top 10 CIO Strategies For Implementing Section 508

Top 10 CIO Strategies For Implementing Section 508

Last Updated: May 5, 2011

1. Adopt a Social Responsibility Perspective for Accessibility
Agencies unintentionally erect barriers to participation and inclusion for people with disabilities; however, a shift in perspective can fundamentally change their approach to accessibility (i.e., the staircase creates the barrier, not the wheelchair). Agencies that adopt a proactive position—actively seeking to prevent access barriers—will do much better than those who address accessibility as an accommodation “they have to do.” 

2. Manage Accessibility
The Section 508 office must be visible, backed by policies that lend it authority, and have access to IT decision-makers. There are many accessibility stakeholders within an agency, and to establish and maintain relationships with those components, organizational placement and structure are primary concerns for management. 
3. Treat Accessibility like Security
Much like security, agencies dedicate resources to accessibility and Section 508 reluctantly. They see it as a legal obligation while overlooking the benefits—improved usability for all users, increased productivity for employees with disabilities, and better online access to Internet government services. Under resourcing accessibility underestimates the consequences—slipping project schedules, cost overruns to retrofit projects whose design did not include accessibility, and the consequences of legal action that can include judges making agency IT decisions.

4. Design and Plan for Accessibility
Designing for accessibility starts at the concept phase, and thus requires formal inclusion in multiple phases of an organization’s development and procurement life cycles. Having a single process approval gate at the end of a project is not sufficient, because by then it is too late. Large and important project approval will likely trump retrofitting for accessibility, and adopting an inaccessible project exposes the agency to avoidable legal risk. Retrofitting applications and remediating accessibility issues is more costly, difficult, and time consuming than addressing accessibility at a project’s design phase, so take a proactive approach and place accessibility requirements into the life cycle early and often. 
5. Procure Accessible Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT)
Section 508 uses the “power of the purse” to improve the accessibility of products and services in the marketplace, but it is only effective when applied uniformly across many agencies. Do more than ask about accessibility; establish product and service accessibility criteria and validate accessibility claims with testing. Accessibility does not terminate with the purchase of products. Regardless of whether an agency or vendor performs integration, the agency must establish implementation guidance and acceptance criteria. 
6. Impose Targeted Standards
Ensure Section 508 standards are included in your agency policies, development life cycle processes, and as minimum requirements for all procurements. Describe how the agency will interpret the Section 508 standards and how they integrate with other agency specific accessibility requirements. Specify how the agency will evaluate accessibility requirements.
7. Test and Validate
An agency must evaluate and test products, applications, and electronic content if it wants positive and measurable accessibility outcomes. Vendor claims and, for that matter, agency development group claims are meaningless without scrutiny and a method to measure accessibility progress. As you prioritize what is tested, understand that validation is fundamental to improving accessibility. 
8. Study and Use Best Practices
Successful accessibility programs have many practices in common. Benefit from the best practices applicable to your agency, continue to evaluate and mature your accessibility program by learning from other agencies, and participate in communities of practice. 
9. Participate in and Join Communities of Practice
Communities of practice are important for sharing ideas, expertise, and creating a uniform marketplace for E&IT. Participate in Section 508 Coordinator workshops, interagency ad hoc committees, and comment on Notices of Public Rule Making. Consider participating in communities of practice beyond US Federal agencies. Section 508 spotlights the federal sector, but outside communities of practice are eager for agency participation. Take advantage of their wealth of expertise, creativity, technical guidance, process approaches, and policy examples. 
10. Employ People with Disabilities
Actively recruit qualified individuals with disabilities. President Obama signed Executive Order 13548 (Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities) with the intention of making the US Federal government a model employer for people with disabilities. Agencies have many tools to help them actively recruit these qualified applicants. Visit Disability.gov for more information.

Have you heard of the Soft Skills Curriculum?

Soft Skills to Pay the Bills — Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success?

Published on May 17, 2012 by US Department of Labor

“Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success,” is a curriculum developed by ODEP focused on teaching “soft” or workforce readiness skills to youth, including youth with disabilities. The basic structure of the program is comprised of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism.

For more info on the Soft Skills to Pay the Bills — Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success visit: http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/.

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New to Disability: Learn More about Disability and Independent Living

New to Disability: Learn More about Disability and Idependent Living

Find national and state resources on community living for people with disabilities.

Disability.gov is the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide. The site has information on topics such as applying for benefits, getting health care, finding a job, paying for housing and protecting the legal rights of people with disabilities. Want to learn more? Visit the About Us section. 
Keep in mind that
Disability.gov is a web portal, so every time you select a resource, you will be taken to another website. For example, a resource about Social Security benefits may direct you to the Social Security Administration’s website, www.ssa.gov. Disability.gov is not responsible for the maintenance of these resources or websites. 
Select one of the links below to learn more about: 

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