The Recession Hits 'Encore' Careers

By Kleyman, Paul | Aging Today, January/February 2009 | Go to article overview

The Recession Hits 'Encore' Careers


Kleyman, Paul, Aging Today


THE CONNECTED AGE-HOW TO CONTINUE WORK WITH PURPOSE

The economy was strained when we planned this "In Focus" section months ago, but not crashing. Still, no one is getting younger. Although many may have to work longer, older Americans are no less hopeful about making meaningful contributions in their later years-contributions that are needed now more than ever.

Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures and cofounder of the Purpose Prize and Experience Corps, titled his latest book Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life (Public Affairs, 2007). However, the notion of leaving a job after one turns age 50 to seek more fulfilling endeavors may seem more remote than ever to many aging boomers during the current recession.

"Even before the downturn happened, we shifted our focus to work, because we were concerned that the civic contributions were overly marked by volunteerism," although volunteer work can be a pathway to nonprofit and public jobs, Freedman told Aging Today recently. Although job losses have been staggering on the national scale-533,000 pink slips to workers in November 2008 alone-Freedman noted that two sectors, education and healthcare, saw job increases. "And now the green economy is taking off," he added.

Also, Freedman noted that in a December report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed general expectations that the new administration will intensify public spending when it projected major labor expansions in federal and state governments.

Furthermore, he explained, "The nonprofit sector is projected to have a leadership deficit of 640,000 positions in the next decade." He cautioned though, "If we go into a 10-year depression, all bets are off, but that's true of any sector. People are going to have to work."

Encore jobs-purposeful work with good pay and benefits in the government or private nonprofit sector-are not for everyone, Freedman stressed. "But we want to be sure that everybody who wants to do this work-in areas that are dependent on talent and are projected to have labor shortages-has a pretty good chance of getting there."

He said that Civic Ventures is designing its programs to make it easier for people to become nurses, teachers, green-collar workers, government employees or nonprofit managers.

To date, for example, the organization's Next Chapter program is developing community coalitions across the United States to help people assess their skills and to assist individuals in finding appropriate positions. …

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