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50+ Worker Issues Topic of West Valley
Employers’ Focus Group

By: Source: AARP.org Date Posted: 2008-01-22 13:40:07.918826-05:00

AARP Arizona and Rio Salado College announced efforts to offer a four-part pilot
series of classes on 50+ worker issues that are to be launched at the Rio Salado
College Lifelong Learning Center in Surprise, AZ, this Spring.

Last month, AARP and Rio Salado Community College officials hosted a forum for
local area employers in which they discussed the unveiling of a pilot series of 50+
Worker curriculum that is set to launch at the College in March.

The curriculum will be divided into two parts, one program will be offered to
employers who are interested in learning more about issues affecting the 50+
workforce. The second part will be specific classes that are tailored to 50+
workers who are interested in retooling their skills or looking to re-career. The
classes will be offered on-line or in a traditional classroom setting.

AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell believes the timing for the launch of
the new curriculum this spring is on target with demographic shifts which are
beginning to take place in today's workforce.

"There are three important trends that are starting to have a dramatic impact on
the future of our country's workforce," said Mitchell. "Number one - our workforce
is aging. Number two - labor shortages are projected in a growing number of
economic sectors and number three - many workers are intending to continue to
work beyond their traditional retirement age. All of this points to the importance of
keeping and attracting 50+ workers."

It's estimated that over 34 percent of the U.S. workforce will be 50 and over by
2012. "As more baby boomers turn 60, attracting and retaining skilled workers will
become critical if employers want to retain a competitive edge," Mitchell added.

In AARP's landmark report, The Business Case for Workers Age 50+, it was found
that 58% of human resource managers said it is more difficult today than it was
five years ago to find qualified job applicants. More than half also said that their
companies are likely to face a shortage of qualified workers within the next five
years.

"It's our responsibility as a community college to address local workforce needs,"
said Todd Aakhus, Director of the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center.
"One of the fastest growing segments of community college education is non-
credit classes like workforce training. These classes focus on contemporary
issues that are relevant to our local populations. One of the fastest growing
demographics in community college education is our older students and we want
to be responsive and address their needs."

At the forum, AARP and Rio Salado College wanted to help employers understand
the need to address aging, from a labor-force perspective and from a consumer
perspective.

More information about the upcoming pilot series will be announced later this
month.