Friday, October 28, 2016

Invest in yourself in uncertain times.

In the Recessions of the early 80’s and the mid nineties, many Canadian Boomers started to realize that there were no safety nets when it came to employment. As a result, they started to invest in themselves by upgrading their training and education. People realized that if they were going to keep their job, they needed to invest in themselves. It paid off for the individual, and it did pay off for business, both large and small. Employers gained a more educated and trained labour force and workers were able to keep or get new jobs.

What suffered was the concept of company loyalty. The idea that one would work for two or three companies over your employment life, went the way of the Dodo bird. Young people today realize that they are the ones who can use their training in almost any employment setting. As a result, employers, as Boomers retire, will have a more difficult time finding and/or retraining workers.

A report by the AARP on how the Boomers did after the “Great Recession” of the early 2000’s built on the theme of self reliance, which many in Canada had learned earlier. Here is some highlights from the report:
·       A number of policy options could address the employment and retirement income prospects of America’s boomers.
·       Encourage workers to take advantage of training and retraining programs that their employers offer. The unemployed obviously lack this option, but they may have had it before becoming unemployed. Not only might the training provide boomers with marketable skills, but it also may demonstrate to current employers that they are willing and able to learn new ways of doing things. Training might help those without work to find a job and those with jobs to increase productivity and stay employed. It might also help them change careers and give them an option to remain in the labor force longer.
·       Urge workers close to retirement to engage in training in light of the possible need to postpone retirement or return to the labor force after retirement.
·       Expand opportunities for jobless boomers who need financial assistance to get the training that might enhance their career opportunities. Offer financial assistance to cover costs, particularly in the case of the unemployed (who may need such training the most). This training may help offset some of the costs through lower Unemployment Insurance benefits paid and higher tax receipts. Ensure that information on where the jobs are and what skills employers are seeking in the way of skills is current, accurate, and readily available.
·       Encourage workers to save, to save more if they are already saving, and to keep retirement savings invested for that purpose. When unemployment strikes, savings become especially vulnerable. Adequate unemployment benefits coupled with job-training and job-search assistance might keep some unemployed boomers from raiding their retirement savings accounts and/or opting for Social Security prematurely.
·       Invest more resources in government efforts to monitor and enforce anti-age discrimination laws to better protect older workers, especially in economic downturns when labor surpluses enable employers to discount or overlook the potential contributions of older employees or job seekers.
·       Identify government and private programs for advising older workers on the wisdom of starting their own business as a primary or secondary source of income. Assisting them in doing so could improve the financial well-being of older workers who cannot find work and provide added income for workers who need extra money to supplement their wages from other employment.

·       Recognize that Social Security is, and will likely remain, the bedrock of retirement-income security in the United States. Perhaps in a generation or two, retiring workers will have accumulated sizable funds in their retirement savings accounts and thus be better equipped to weather economic storms such as the one that workers have faced over the past several years. It is highly uncertain that this will occur or that it will happen to everybody. Unless it does, workers—including the many millions of boomers yet to retire—will remain heavily dependent on Social Security for support in retirement. As traditional pensions decline, Social Security remains the only major stable retirement income source. It is critical that this program be protected.

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