2.4 million older workers may retire early due to technological change

More than 2.4 million workers over age 50 in the U.S. may retire early because they can’t keep up with the technological changes and skills required in the modern workplace, according to a Dec. 7 report from Multiverse.

However, 41% of these workers said they’d be willing to stay in the labor market if they received better access to training, which may indicate a key focus area for retention strategies and skills continuity.

“As more individuals over the age of 50 trend toward early retirement, businesses and society lose out on significant knowledge and skills that contribute to the workforce,” Gary Eimerman, chief learning officer of Multiverse, said in a statement.

“Our recent survey shows that despite this trend, there are opportunities to retain workers over the age of 50, and even tempt many back from retirement if employers are willing to provide training to help close critical skills gaps,” he said.

In a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. and U.K. workers between ages 50 and 65, 64% said the pace of digital transformation is greater now than before. In fact, some workers said the pace of change affects their health and well-being, with 14% citing digital transformation as a cause of anxiety.

Artificial intelligence changes appear to challenge these workers as well. Thirty-nine percent said AI adoption would have a negative impact on them and their job security. 

Despite the need for training, 57% of respondents said they feel younger workers are prioritized over older workers for learning and development opportunities. About a quarter of those over age 50 said their employer hasn’t supported them in developing digital skills, which climbs to 35% among early retirees.

In addition, 44% said they haven’t taken part in any training course or program at work in at least a year, and 20% hadn’t done so in at least three years. When asked why, nearly half said their employers simply didn’t provide training opportunities.

Among older workers intending to retire in the next 12 months, 16% said they would change their minds if their employer offered opportunities for them to learn and develop new skills. Among those intending to leave their job soon, 41% said they’d be willing to stay for new opportunities, with fully funded training potentially motivating them to stay for another six years.

On top of that, 35% of early retirees who already left the labor market said they’d be interested in returning to work if an employer offered them the opportunity to train and develop new skills.

“Employers and the government must commit to investing in the ongoing learning of all workers, not just those at the start of their careers,” Eimerman said. “When we prioritize lifelong learning, we are able to boost job satisfaction for millions of workers and fill growing digital skills gaps — thus creating a great opportunity to strengthen the U.S. labor force.”

Inflation is pushing some retirees to consider a return to the labor market, according to a ResumeBuilder.com report. However, two-thirds of those considering a return expressed fears about age bias during the hiring process.

Seniors are increasingly applying for entry-level positions, according to a report from Express Employment Professionals. About 60% of hiring managers said they prefer to hire older candidates over younger ones for these positions, which may indicate a shift in perceptions about work experience and maturity.