Here’s a sobering statistic: Fully 37% of male workers age 58 and older hold down jobs that require physical labor; for women, it’s 32%.
The numbers come from a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). And they’re large numbers indeed in an economy that’s supposedly moving away from its old industrial base.
It just gets harder
They’re big numbers, too, insofar as older workers experience increasing physical problems doing hard labor. Used to be, people with such jobs just struggled on until retirement. But now, with the retirement age receding to 66, 67 and possibly even 70, retirement as respite is less realistic.
What can you do for your manual laborers?
All through their careers, encourage them to further their education. The study points out that 63% of workers without a high school degree hold physically demanding jobs, while just 26% of college grads do. Tuition reimbursement programs and discount arrangements with community colleges are two ways HR can go about this.
• Offer opportunities to train for skilled, desk-based sedentary positions. The CEPR study (see it at www.cepr.net/documents/publications/older-workers-2010-08.pdf) may help you make the point that they won’t always want to be toting that barge and lifting that bale.