Retired workers are re-entering the workforce in high numbers — the SCSEP wants to boost it even more
According to analysis by Indeed, more than 2.6% of retired workers returned to work in October 2021. This was the highest resurgence of previously retired workers since April 2020. Part of this could be because of the relatively easy process of bringing retired people back into the fold.
GRAND FORKS — The ongoing labor shortage in the United States — and closer to home, in the Grand Forks region — has caused some companies to get creative when attracting new people into the workforce.
Sometimes, these people aren’t new, per se. Retirees are being courted to help fill employment gaps.
“I would say that I don't think you would find an employer who would say no to any of those folks coming back,” said Dusty Hillebrand, Grand Forks workforce center manager at North Dakota Job Service.
According to analysis by Indeed, more than 2.6% of retired workers returned to work in October 2021. This was the highest resurgence of previously retired workers since April 2020. Part of this, Hillebrand said, could be because of the relatively easy process of bringing retired people back into the fold.
“It's not difficult to bring somebody back in,” Hillebrand said. “It depends on how much time those workers are looking to spend in the workplace. They might be looking for a little bit of a flexible schedule, because they've already retired once and they're not looking to start a career. That’s not to say that some aren't. If you have someone who retires younger, they might be looking for a second career field.”
Hillebrand cited a multitude of benefits from bringing retired people back into the workforce, including the knowledge they possess from years of experience.
“Those workers have a lot of skills from their previous careers,” Hillebrand said. “And they can provide knowledge to current employers. They can be mentors to new employees or younger employees. There are a lot of benefits to being open to hiring employees that have retired once already.”
Jay Meier, a job developer with National Indian Council On Aging (NICOA), helps run the state’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). He said COVID-19 has played a large role in the shake-up of the workforce in the past couple of years. However, sometimes the pandemic can also play a part in convincing retirees to stay retired.
“The older workers that I'm working with, they're starting to look at that again (going out into the workforce),” Meier said. “But because of their age, they're a little bit more tentative than a younger worker to go back out and be in an environment where there's a lot of people.”
The NICOA was founded in 1976 by members of the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association who wanted an organization focused on helping aging American Indian and Alaska Native elders. The U.S. Department of Labor funds SCSEP through the Older American Act of 1965.
Meier is currently “criss-crossing” North Dakota to inform workforce and job centers of what the NCSEP is and the people within it looking for employment. In the NCSEP, retirees aged 55 and older looking to re-enter the workforce enroll and join a training program for two to four years. The program currently has about 100 participants.
“Our job is to get them out in unsubsidized employment,” Meier said. “So basically, it’s any job in the community. One of the things that I really want to make sure that I express is this program, we're the National Indian Council on Aging. ... But anybody can be in this. You don't have to be Native American. You don’t have to be Indian or Alaskan or anything like that.”
Some of them don’t need much training, either.
“For example, in Fargo right now, we have a guy that's pretty good with electronics and those types of things,” Meier said. "Job fair season is coming up in North Dakota, so I'm going to be going to a lot of job fairs trying to visit with the employers ... and talk about these older people that are pretty reliable. They show up for work, and they have skills.”
Overall, about 60% of NCSEP participants find employment after their time in the program is over. The program also provides help with finding jobs in the community.
“We need all the help we can get,” Meier said. “We are always looking for new participants. We want people in the program and employers that want to visit with me and talk about this stuff.”