When you are hired into a specific job, you are selected because your employer believes that you offer the best fit between abilities you already have and those needed to perform the job. However, as noted earlier, the skills needed to perform a job typically change over time. Such changes may be due to the introduction of new technology, to additional responsibilities, or to promotion.
Such rapid changes in the nature of work as we have discussed earlier tend to result in the displacement of older workers in the workforce. According to the U. S. Census Bureau (1993), 51.4% of displaced workers 55 to 64 years old do not find other employment, whereas 65% to 70% of workers under the age of 55 years are reemployed. One approach to this problem is that mid- and late-career workers need to be involved in continued development and retraining at work. If not, older workers are in jeopardy of cutting their careers short (Greller & Stroh, 1995). We will discuss the implications of job loss further later. Another outcome is career pla – teauing (Froman, 1994; Kooij et al., 2008). Career plateauing occurs when there is a lack of promotional opportunity in the organization or when a person decides not to seek advancement.
What is critical here is that unless a person’s skills are kept up-to-date, it may be very difficult for older workers to maintain their job or land new jobs when they are forced into retirement, displaced, or victims of downsizing (Froman, 1994; Simon, 1996). In cases of job loss or career plateau – ing, retraining may be an appropriate response. Nearly one-third of the U. S. workforce participates each year in courses aimed at improving job skills (American Council on Education, 1997). One objective of these courses is to improve technical skills, such as new computer skills. For mid-career or older employees, who make up the largest percentage of those who take courses (American Council on Education, 1997), retraining may focus on how to advance in one’s occupation or how to find new career opportunities—for example, through resume preparation and career counseling.
Many corporations as well as community and technical colleges offer retraining programs in a variety of fields. Organizations that promote employee development typically promote in-house courses to improve one’s skills or may offer tuition reimbursement programs for people who successfully complete courses at colleges or universities.
The retraining of mid-career and older workers points to the need for lifelong learning (Sinnott,
1994) . To meet the challenges of a global economy, corporations must include retraining in their employee development programs. Such programs will help improve people’s chances of advancement in their chosen occupations, and they will help people
Work, Leisure, and Retirement 469 make successful transitions from one occupation to another.
Despite the benefits and opportunities for retraining workers, some older workers may perceive fewer benefits in participating in such activities, and may have lower self-efficacy for skill development (Maurer, Weiss, & Barbeite, 2003). Self-efficacy in this case is the belief that you possess the capability to successfully learn, develop, and improve yourself at work. These beliefs have been found to be important predictors of effective training and development (Maurer & Tarulli, 1994; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998). Older adults may tend to have less selfconfidence for the development of career-relevant skills. Given the importance of training and development in the older worker’s career, it is important to specify the ways in which organizations can be more sensitive to enhancing career development and self-efficacy of older workers.