BY FREDA MIKLIN
Colorado employers are making a conscious decision to take advantage of the skills and talents of all age groups from 16 to 85, according to Karen Brown, CEO-Strategist of iAging: Innovations for Aging and Longevity Economy. Brown told the group of 60 members of the Women in Business chapter of the South Metro Denver Chamber meeting at Koelbel Public Library in Centennial on July 12 that 50 percent of employees in Colorado are over age 55 and that 25 percent of the state’s workforce is over 65. She went on to say that 70 to 80 percent of Coloradans report that they plan to work at some type of job past age 65. With the unemployment rate in our state dropping to 2.5 percent in May, there are generally more jobs than qualified people to fill them. Brown credited enlightened employers with making the most of the differences between younger and older employees, noting that while younger workers usually have better technological skills, older workers better understand business strategy. They also know that older employers are a good investment because they stay in jobs four times longer than young people.
Brown listed practical steps that companies can take to promote the hiring and maximum benefit of older employees:
Include seeking employees of age in your diversity policy;
Exclude age information on applications, including high school graduation year;
Invest in training for older workers.
Monicque Aragon, economist and statistical analyst for the Colorado Department of Labor told the Women in Business that Colorado was seventh in the U.S. in job growth in 2018 and third overall since 2010. She said that projected employment gains by industry sector from 2017 to 2027 were highest in the health care and social assistance sectors for every area of the state except Boulder, reflecting an aging population. Similarly, she rated the fastest projected growth by detailed occupation over the same ten-year period as highest for home health aides and personal care aides. She presented dramatic graphics showing that the over age 65 component of the state’s workforce jumped from three percent in 2007 to six percent in 2017 and is predicted to be eight percent in 2027.
JB Bettinger, vice president of human resources for Stonebridge, a southeast Denver hotel management company that has a portfolio of 60 hotels around the country, including many Marriott and Hilton-brand hotels, told the group that “the hotel business has the most diverse employees.” She explained that Stonebridge “has six generations in the workplace, ranging in ages from 16 to 80,” and that “every age band has different needs and expectations.” About her company, she said, “We are in the people business. We just happen to operate hotels.”
Listening intently to the presentations and considering how to implement the recommendations were Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko and City Council Member Tammy Maurer, along with RTD board chair Doug Tisdale.