Politics & Policies

Job Programs for Older Workers in the US – How to to increase the availability and effectiveness

Today, a decreasing percentage of counseling, job matching, and job development services are staff-assisted. American Job Centers do not currently have dedicated staff specializing in job development and job placement for older workers.

Selected Public Workforce Development Programs in the United States: Lessons Learned for Older Workers provides a selective review of public workforce development programs in the United States over the past 80 years. The report places special emphasis on the importance these programs have to older Americans. It discusses how the public workforce system developed, how it operates today, significant programs and target groups, common employment services and job training strategies, and what is known about program effectiveness. In some instances, the report speculates on how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) might influence such programs.

Particular attention is given to services benefitting dislocated workers (i.e., experienced adults permanently separated from their prior employers). The report includes evidence on the services found to work best and suggests policies and additional research to improve the public workforce system—especially for older workers.

Evaluations of low-cost, staff-assisted employment services have shown them to be effective. Job skills training evaluations have produced mixed evidence of the training’s effects on employment and earnings. Training often has been found to be more effective for women than men. Rigorous evaluations of the training of disadvantaged adult workers and of sectoral training programs have had encouraging results. The most effective types of job training tend to be on-the-job training, customized training, and targeted classroom skill training. Some policy options to increase the availability and effectiveness of services for older job seekers in the American Job Center Network are:

Employment Services

  • Reduce reliance on automated self-services for older job seekers by increasing staff- assisted services for assessment, screening, counseling, job search assistance, job referrals, and job development.
  • Provide staff-assisted services for older job seekers who need individualized assistance.
  • Establish staff positions in American Job Centers for older worker representatives to assist older job seekers.
  • Increase the use of job clubs for older workers and conduct evaluations of their effectiveness.
  • Increase funds for targeted reemployment services provided to unemployment insurance claimants. In-person assistance to permanently separated, experienced workers would be especially helpful to older workers.


    • Older worker training should be targeted to the job skills in demand by local employers. Stronger guidance should be provided through staff-assisted counseling on the use of Individual Training Accounts. The training should concentrate on (1) high-demand and high-return occupations, (2) on-the-job training slots that can result in employment with significant earnings, and (3) customized training that can improve skills and may increase retention and earnings.
    • Training allowances, which are needed to help workers defray living expenses during longer training periods, and other supportive services (such as transportation and childcare or elder-care assistance) should be available. Increased state flexibility to provide supportive services is contained in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
    • Better assessment, including interviewing, testing, and counseling, would more effectively screen participants for referrals to training for occupations in demand.

Because of severely limited provision of more costly job training by the public workforce system, policy efforts should be focused on providing more lower-cost, staff-assisted employment services.

Capture d’écran 2015-05-25 à 08.47.19

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Workforce Development in the United States: Lessons Learned for Older Workers-AARP Public Policy Institute.

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