Millions of baby boomers […] don’t want or can’t afford to check out of the workforce at age 65. And many are seeking a transition into work that has a social impact. The San Francisco-based Encore.org helps older workers make that transition by pairing them with nonprofits in need of their private-sector expertise for a fellowship year. It’s an arrangement that fits the needs of all participants, and it has broader ramifications: As the population ages, keeping older workers in the workforce could boost the economy, alleviate retirement insecurity, and ease strain on the social-safety net.
In 2009, President Obama signed a law that—inspired by Encore.org’s model—allowed for the creation of federal fellowships for those 55 or older in every state. Funding has yet to be appropriated for the program, but that hasn’t stopped Encore.org from creating a 20-city network that placed 200 fellows last year. The organization estimates that 31 million Americans ages 44 to 70 want to find work with a bigger social impact.
The era of long, vacation-style retirements is over, says Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of Encore.org. “That ideal is no longer attainable for individuals, and it’s not sustainable for society. Who can afford a balloon payment for 30 years of leisure?” he asks. Federal survey data show that most full-time workers actually retire in stages—switching to part-time work, or dipping in and out of the labor market as they age.
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September 5, 2013