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More Seniors Reentering The Workforce

More Seniors Reentering The Workforce
More people are delaying retirement, or coming out of it, because of financial need or boredom. We'll look at how older Americans are finding work in the modern world.

The San Diego Learning Forum will be held at the Educational Cultural Complex on Saturday, November 7th, 2009. The event is free but reservations are required. Call 1-877-926-8300 for more information.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. The great recession, as many on Wall Street now refer to it, has been tough on everyone. But some of the people hardest hit by the shrinking values of investments and real estate are retirees and those just about to retire. A lot of plans have had to change, a lot of dreams put on hold but also new ideas are developing that may alter the way we all think about retirement. Finances are forcing some retired people back to work, and many of the oldest baby boomers who had planned to retire in their early sixties now want to stay employed or change careers. And so a new effort is developing to help older workers learn the skills they need to compete in the 21st century workforce. Joining us to talk about employment for older Americans are my guests. Carleen MacKay, Workforce Policy advisor for AARP California and author of “Plan B for Boomers.” Carleen, welcome to These Days.

CARLEEN MACKAY (Workforce Policy Advisor, AARP California): Thank you and good morning.


CAVANAUGH: And Charlotte Tenney is employment specialist for Employment and Community Options, a nonprofit that provides services to senior citizens and disabled persons. Charlotte, welcome to These Days.

CHARLOTTE TENNEY (Employment Specialist, Employment and Community Options): Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now I’d like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. Are you nearing retirement but now maybe reconsidering? Or maybe you’re currently retired but you now either need or want to get a job? Are you a baby boomer with a plan B for your golden years? Give us a call, tell us your story, 1-888-895-5727. Carleen, I gave a little bit of background in the opening but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about why older Americans are deciding not to retire right now or to come out of retirement.

MACKAY: Oh, I can give you a laundry list here. I think there’s an absence of savings, a presence of high debt, limited time to recover, staggering budget deficits so fewer opportunities, 20% unemployment in California, and so forth and so on. The bottom line truth is that they need to work usually for money or some form of compensation.

CAVANAUGH: Now we used to hear about people not wanting to retire because they thought they’d be bored or, you know, people are living longer, how does that also sort of contribute to the fact that older Americans are not retiring at the rates they used to?


MACKAY: Well, they are retiring, unfortunately. You know, we’re confused a few words here, a few four letter words. The word ‘want’ and ‘hope’ really aren’t plans. So you hear about people planning to work longer, they’re not. And, in fact, they’re being retired earlier and in part, in large part, because the companies themselves are retiring them.


MACKAY: So in terms of why they would want to work besides money, though, very, very quickly, they’re going to live a great deal longer and even if they still had the money that they had saved prior to the recession, very likely they’d outlive their money and they’d certainly suffer from boredom and loneliness.

CAVANAUGH: Carleen, tell us a little bit more about people who are basically being forced to retire.

MACKAY: Well, take a look. If you look at California itself and you look at the real unemployment statistics, there are many, many places especially in central California where 20 to 30% is the truth. And, of course, the older, more expensive workers are particularly vulnerable.

CAVANAUGH: And, Charlotte, let me get you into the conversation here. You’ve heard what Carleen has said. Are you seeing more people come into the Employment and Opportunity Options office that you have, asking for assistance?

TENNEY: Over the last three years, we’ve seen our work going from going out and recruiting and telling people about our services and our organization to having a waiting list of over six months, maybe even as long as a year, for people to receive services from us. The nature of the people that we’re seeing has completely changed over the last three years from being people who were sort of chronically unemployed to people that – who are now surprised that they are unemployed and surprised that it’s taking them so long to get back into work so that they now qualify as low income, which is a surprise for all of us. I’ve got people with jurisprudence degrees, I have people with teaching credentials, and I even have registered nurses now that I had never seen before in the program.

CAVANAUGH: We are talking about older Americans, employment for older Americans and how some people who were – had been planning to retire or were retired now have to reenter the workforce. The number is 1-888-895-5727 for your calls. And I’m speaking with Carleen MacKay, who is Workforce Policy advisor for AARP California, author of “Plan B for Boomers,” and Charlotte Tenney, employment specialist for Employment and Community Options. Let’s look a little bit more at the demographics here at the situation, Carleen. Who is currently in the U.S. workforce and how soon will the bulk of people be of retirement age?

MACKAY: Well, what’s retirement age? I think that’s the big question.


MACKAY: It’s different for everyone. But the fact is that the changes are driven by the fact that most of the workforce is mature. About 48% of today’s workforce is already in the boomer or even older category. So we need us, right?


MACKAY: But I think even deeper than that, there’s another shift that’s happened beyond recession and that is the old days of brawn and longevity-driven pay and one to three jobs per working lifetime now are really – have been replaced by brain jobs and lifetime learning and market-driven skills and so forth. So the shift is much deeper and the people who’ve been caught in that are those who’ve been, in the old days, on the job training and longevity-driven pay. Now they’re trying to figure out a whole new world.

CAVANAUGH: And, Charlotte, when you look at the demographics that we’ve been talking about and the fact that most people used to think about retirement age at about 65, I’m wondering, do you see that people, as you say, seem surprised when they come into your office. What is it that they’re surprised about? That they’re – they don’t have a job? Or that they have to work at all?

TENNEY: They’re quite surprised that they don’t have a job. They come to us feeling that they have something of value to offer and I would say that they do. They don’t understand why they are not perceived as desirable in the workplace because they bring experience and they are good problem solvers and they’ve been good workers and they don’t understand why the employers don’t value that.

CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And we have a caller now. James is calling from Santee. Good morning, James. Welcome to These Days.

JAMES (Caller, Santee): Oh, good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, how can we help you?

JAMES: Well, for the last several months I’ve been working with Al Lanning, who’s the chief of police in La Mesa and Mayor Art Madrid, a squared away guy, to come up with an expansion of their old Dial-A-Ride, which they call Rides for Neighbors, which can easily be adapted to rides for seniors. Not only did I come up with the information, the Small Business Startup Kit for California, and my friend Dave’s at Mission Gorge Auto, but I came up with all the information to help the transit operate these small dial-a-rides or Rides for Neighbors out of existing transit stations.

CAVANAUGH: Well, James, let me stop you there, if I may, and ask you, so the rides for seniors would be to enable seniors to get out and go and work? Is that the idea?

JAMES: Absolutely. It’s an idea that would help small business because I pursued the Community Reinvestment Act for small banks to reinvest in small communities with Art Madrid and Chief of Police Al Lanning.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, James. Let me speak with my guests about the idea of transportation. Okay, so let’s say you’re an older worker, a senior citizen, you want to go back to work, what about transportation? Is that an issue?

TENNEY: For the people I’m working with it is quite often an issue, that they may have had to give up their cars for financial reasons and they are now limited to places they can get to with public transportation which, frankly, in San Diego is not really extensive. There are also some issues about – with the cuts they’ve been making. People who used to have transportation with buses can no longer get on the bus. So, certainly, it would expand their options if they had reliable transportation to get to and from a job.

CAVANAUGH: And, Carleen, let – let’s sort of break this down a little bit when we’re talking about seniors and older workers because you work for an organization, AARP, which used to be known as the Association for Retired People and I think that maybe they’re a two-tier that we’re talking about. When we used to talk about people who, as older Americans, as seniors, we used to talk about anybody over age 55 or 60 and I’m wondering now isn’t there like a two-tier idea of what constitutes the senior population?

MACKAY: Maureen, I have to tell you that senior’s always ten years older than what you are. There’s certainly two tiers and probably more than that. But, you know, first of all, thank you, James. It’s wonderful for each person to take some of the responsibility to make something work for someone else at this point. But I would add that AARP and the other work that I do, which is as a demographics expert and as an advisor, a practitioner, if you would, to organizations, our beginning number for mature, not seniors, working adults, is 50. And by absolute fact, demographic fact, the people who’ve been most adversely affected are between 50 and 60.

CAVANAUGH: I see. So what kind of special problems or challenges do people of this particular age range face? Were they really thinking about retiring in that ten year window? Or is it something along the lines of you find yourself unemployed or having to take early retirement and then you’re saying, well, what do I do now?

MACKAY: Well, you know, it’s rather all of the above. I would say this, the private sector has a unique problem. Pension plans are long gone. The 401(k)s were badly hurt. And by demographic studies, 37% of employed mature workers, meaning 50 and above, do not have enough money to sustain their lifetime. That’s a big number.

CAVANAUGH: It certainly is. And, Charlotte, when people come into the Employment and Community Options office, have they – how long, I guess I wonder if you know this. How long have they been unemployed? Is this one of their first stops or one of their last stops?

TENNEY: In order to qualify for services in our program, we need to look at the last year’s worth of income, and they have to fit the low income guidelines set by the Department of Labor in order to qualify for services with us. So a person might be out of work long enough to exhaust their unemployment plus about six months. Many of these people have been working. They are now exhausting their retirement plan in order to live, and they’re coming to us because they don’t know where else to go. They’ve tried everything else they can think of. Now they need some assistance with strategy, resume, interview skills, and, in many cases, people are coming in and they thought they were going to escape the computer age. And they are on the wrong side of what is called the digital divide and they are finally finding out – They come in and complain, everyone wants me to apply online. And it’s like, okay, then now’s the time and now you’re going to learn.

CAVANAUGH: Carleen, do you think that’s the number one divider between mature workers and younger workers, are their computer skills?

MACKAY: You know, I actually don’t. I think that the divide is an understanding of what’s become in the world. And the younger people are expecting to change jobs every year and staying current, their skills are current, whereas the older worker is getting a big surprise about the new world. But frankly, the fastest growing group of technology users are the older wor – or, let’s call them mature, just to stay consistent with age 50. The big difference is that when you’re young, you can employ tactics. You can have a resume and a hope. When you’re older, you need a strategy. It’s a different time, a different place, and a different world.

CAVANAUGH: I’m going to ask you a little bit more about what you mean by those two ideas but we have to take a short break so when we return, I’ll continue my conversation with Carleen MacKay and Charlotte Tenney, talking about older workers, mature workers in the workforce and taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS, and we’re talking about finances forcing some retired people back to work or forcing some people to look for work after they’ve been retired or wanted to be retired. And we’re taking your calls. Are you planning to work well into your later years? Or perhaps you have a story to tell us about what it’s like trying to look for work as an older worker. The number is 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. I’d like to welcome back my guests, Carleen MacKay, who is Workforce Policy Advisor for AARP California and author of the book “Plan B for Boomers,” and Charlotte Tenney, employment specialist for Employment and Community Options, a nonprofit that provides services to senior citizens and disabled persons. Carleen, just before we had to break you talked about younger people having a hope and older people needing a strategy when it comes to actually getting a new job and planning out their careers. What do you mean by that?

MACKAY: Well, let’s look at the changes in the workplace. The jobs that are available today, especially in San Diego and California, are typically brain-related jobs, not brawn-related jobs. And as you mature, that becomes more and more important to understand. You can’t really do the things always into your sixties and seventies that you once did. Other changes that are really important that require a strategy, you have to learn what you have to learn. You have to know what it is that’s missing. What does the market demand? When you’ve come from one to three jobs per working lifetime and you’re coming into a new world, the learning is the key to see what it is that’s needed. Having said that, where do I think they’re going to go to work, I think the mature workers increasingly will be used in project temping and free agent roles.

CAVANAUGH: And, Charlotte, do you think that as well?

TENNEY: I think that Carleen is spot on but I think we’re going to have a hard sell with the people who are going there because they are used to the idea and the concept of going to an employer and staying there for, quote, the rest of their lives, and they really are looking for that security. As one of the largest things we have to do with job seekers today is show them how things are going to be different and get them to accept the fact that they have to have a different strategy for working now.

CAVANAUGH: And how is it that you retrain older workers to sort of accept this new way of going about getting employed? You’re employed over here for a little while, you’re employed over there for a little while, this is part time, this is temporary. How do you go about sort of explaining that, Charlotte?

TENNEY: In the program that I work for, we put people on internships with social service agencies and they’re not allowed to stay for longer than a year, and we move them around a lot. We put them in training programs. We interrupt their life constantly. I would say it’s a really good training ground for what the real world looks like. And for many, it’s overwhelming and they find it very, very uncomfortable, and I often feel that I’m being mean when I’m doing it but it’s actually appropriate since we are training people to be flexible, to roll with the changes, and to fit in in a lot of different environments.

CAVANAUGH: And, Carleen, what stereotypes exist about mature or senior workers? It sounds as if perhaps one of them is not a stereotype, the whole idea of wanting to be employed in one place and just stay there. But what other things that employers think about older workers are not true?

MACKAY: Well, there’s just dozens of them. But let’s – May I back up just for a minute…

CAVANAUGH: Sure. Yes. Yes.

MACKAY: …and say that I happen to believe that the first thing you start with in terms of getting people to accept change is to understand what has changed. And so I start – I’m in the private sector principally, the work that I do, not in the government or public sector, and mainly I try to instruct them as to what’s changed in the world. For example, manufacturing that used to exist in San Diego doesn’t – we don’t have very much manufacturing there. And if there are no jobs and we teach them that they’re not likely to come back, then we position them a little better. But anyway, going back to your question…


MACKAY: …I haven’t had the problem with individuals adapting because I educate them. Part two, what are the stereotypes? Probably the number one stereotype is you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.


MACKAY: And I know that’s a cliché but that is something that we, ourselves, set in stone some years ago when we said never trust anyone over 30. Some people are old enough to remember that saying. So we set up a lot of them ourselves. But we set up things such as you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, that the older worker is not flexible, will not be the person who will stay in the sense of giving the type of contribution you need, that they are not going to have the skills coming in, and that is a problem. The skills coming in, to Charlotte’s point, are very important. When there’s six boomers for every job that’s open in San Diego—and that is a statistical number but it’s true—then the person who’s going to be hired is the one whose skills are current, not the one who’s willing to learn. But I’d like to say that, you know, overpaid, overqualified, overwrought…


MACKAY: …overage, all of those overs are the stereotypes that suggest that somehow or other you lose your brain power to be able to compete and to stay up with changes in the workplace.

CAVANAUGH: I wonder, Charlotte, do – are older, mature workers who are going out looking for work, are they surprised with how little employers are paying?

TENNEY: There is some sticker shock coming – especially from people who are coming out of careers and switching to another career, and they are having to deal with the fact that when you become entry level, you take a hit in pay. There’s also been a huge shift in what people do get paid. If you last worked in a union job and there are no more unions, you’re going to find that things are not compensating you the same way. So there – they are surprised to find out what the pay scales are but then this is San Diego and we know about pay scale in San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, we do. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. If you are a mature worker who’s been looking for work, you can tell us your stories about whatever challenges or struggles you’ve faced or perhaps you’ve found your parents having to look for work and they didn’t intend to. Give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. I’m wondering, and I want to ask the both of you about this, I know that you have your Employment and Community Options is a training center but I’m also wondering about different ways that older workers can get themselves trained to qualify for the jobs of the future and the jobs of the now. And, Carleen, the fact that California’s public universities have been so impacted by a shrinking educational budget, does that also show up in the number of older Americans who can retrain to get the jobs that they aren’t qualified for now?

MACKAY: Well, I can’t speak specifically for San Diego but I will tell you that I believe that the extended study programs in the universities will be the bulk of revenue gaining in the university, unlike the undergraduate, and it’s starting to trend that way. That I can tell you for sure. The community colleges are cooking, if you want to use that word, in terms of attracting mature students of every age.

CAVANAUGH: But they’re also a little overcooked here in…


CAVANAUGH: ...San Diego, aren’t they?

TENNEY: Well, we’ve certainly seen a cut in the number of classes available. Over at the Career Center on Imperial Avenue, we have a classroom operated by the Community College District for learning computer skills and three years ago they were not being used very well, to the point they thought they were going to close the class; now it is burgeoning and with people waiting in line.

MACKAY: Right.

TENNEY: So these schools are needed. They are being used.

CAVANAUGH: You talked to me a little bit during the break, Charlotte, about the fact that you hear stories every day from people who come in and they’re surprised to be at your Employment and Community Options Center. Can you recall a story or two to share with us that you’ve heard from some of the people who’ve shown up there?

TENNEY: Well, one of the latest trends has happened just recently. Many people will go into home care for a relative. And they have a sick relative, they make the responsible decision they will keep that relative at home rather than institutionalizing them, and provide that home care. And they would get Health & Human Services pay, which is not a lot but it was enough to get by for the time that they were doing that home care. Then either that person no longer needs the home care for whatever reason or, more recently, they’ve cut the funding for that home care and here you have people who have given up their career, they may be five years out of the workforce, they’ve given up their car. They may even, because their person they were taking care of owned the house, they are now without a house to live in. And suddenly they’re back in the workforce with no recent skills, no recent job reference, and no resources.

CAVANAUGH: And recently you’ve seen more of this because of the state budget cuts to the home healthcare workers.

TENNEY: Absolutely.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take a call. Vaughn is calling from San Diego. Good morning, Vaughn. Welcome to These Days.

VAUGHN (Caller, San Diego): Yeah, good morning. You touched on a bit about, you know, the manufacturing prowess of the United States over the last half century and that a lot of the seniors had skills in that area, whether it’s Boeing and aerospace or automotive and so on and so forth. You know, we’ve exported tremendous jobs in manufacturing both just south of the border to Mexico. I was just across there today. The factories over there are enormous and the dollars that this country sends, you know, everything you buy at WalMart is from China. You know, a premise that I learned in economics when I graduated in ’86 was keep your dollars local. Now, Obama, I think he is aware of this and he’s trying. I see – Tell me your shift, the big shift I see is trying to get into business for yourself, especially here in San Diego, the people have started their own small businesses. I know a lot of that takes capital but, you know, just to survive, you know, trying to make…

CAVANAUGH: Well, Vaughn…

VAUGHN: …ends meet but…

CAVANAUGH: Vaughn, let me – let me ask both of our guests here about both manufacturing jobs and older Americans starting their own business. Carleen, California’s manufacturing base, as many manufacturing bases across the United States, has sort of shrunk. How does that impact the older workers trying to retrain and find new jobs?

MACKAY: Well, first of all, it’s not going to change. We are now a global economy and we’re going to be building products wherever we can build them better and faster and cheaper. And the world isn’t waiting for us to decide to bring our products home. We have to come up with new inventions, new innovations, new products that we can produce here. That’s the real bottom line challenge, it’s not the jobs coming back; we have to create new jobs. And invention has certainly slowed down but there are many things on the horizon that suggest big changes, particularly in the medical products areas, you might say. But if you look at all the different things that have happened in terms of global shift, I want to really emphasize that part of what we teach people in strategy is to understand what’s shifting away from your particular community and what’s coming in. So I think I’ve missed part two of your question. What was that, Maureen?

CAVANAUGH: Part two of the question was are older workers starting their own businesses to any extent that you’re aware of?

MACKAY: Absolutely. In fact, the 50-plus year olds are the ones that are starting the entrepreneurial businesses and much more successfully. It’s not just sheer numbers but more successfully because they’ve had past experience that leads them to perhaps understanding how to run a business better than somebody just starting out. So, yes, there’s a lot of business startups but it also takes a long time to build a business. I have my own business, for instance, and it really takes two to three years. You have to be able to endure the start up.

CAVANAUGH: Right, indeed. And I would imagine that many people coming to your agency don’t have the capital to begin their own business, or am I wrong?

TENNEY: The – Certainly, the capital is an issue. For many people, it’s that they know how to do what they know how to do but they don’t have experience operating a business and they become so focused on either the product that they make or the service that they offer – I have a gentleman who is a very qualified bookkeeper and can do taxes and he thought that he would like to open his own business and it seemed like a good idea. And we have walked him through getting a license and doing quite a number of things and yet the thing that has stopped him is he does not know how to market himself. And that is such an exhausting proposition for him and yet it is the difference that will make the difference in his business.

MACKAY: Uh-huh.

TENNEY: So he’s on the learning curve of learning how to operate a business and what he’d rather concentrate on is learning QuickBooks.

CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly, that whole marketing thing is standing in the way. Let’s take another call. Bill is calling from La Mesa. Good morning, Bill. Welcome to These Days.

BILL (Caller, La Mesa): Good morning. Thank you. I just wanted to share a little bit about my own experience in the job market. Now this is five or six years ago that I got laid off from a project management job with a software firm in San Diego and I was 54 at the time. And 2000 resumes and a year and a half later, I wound up being a chauffer.


BILL: Now I have the equivalent of a master’s degree. I have tremendous computer experience. I ran my own computer store and taught classes for ten years. But what I found, what I realized as I went through the process of trying to find a job where I could put my experience and expertise to work, was that there’s a tremendous prejudice among employers out there. They would rather hire somebody at what they assume will be a lower wage, a younger age and train them, than hire somebody who has the background and the skills, who’s older and they figure they’re going to have to pay them more even though they may be incorrect in that.

CAVANAUGH: Now, let me ask you, Bill, did you have this – You have this evidence, the fact that you sent out all these resumes, that you were so well qualified…

BILL: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …and you just didn’t get a job in your field. Did you get any feedback from the employers themselves that kind of told you that it was your age that was go – that was the barrier?

BILL: No, I didn’t even get my foot in the door. And I – that’s why I became convinced with the qualifications I had and everything. I had to look at the overall picture, and the only thing that I can conclude…


BILL: …was the age factor.

CAVANAUGH: Now, let me ask you, as a chauffer how long do you plan on working?

BILL: Oh, as long as I can. I really enjoy the work I’m doing and I’ll do it as long as I can maintain my qualifications as far as the driver’s license and everything. It’s a tremendous job but I – I’m – I continually feel frustrated that the skills that I have are not being put to use. I have a lot to offer and they’re going nowhere with this. Now, I have skills in the job I have but my technical skills obviously are not part of it.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you so much, Bill. I appreciate the call. And I’m going to ask you, Charlotte, do you hear from people that basically there’s no reason why they’re not getting employed except their age?

TENNEY: It’s very difficult to say that that’s the reason. Many people do hear the ubiquitous, oh, you’re overqualified for the job and that can be code for you are too old or we perceive you as being that way. But from the perspective of the employer as well, if a person is bringing too much to the table, the employer has every reason to think that they aren’t going to be happy in the position, the lower level position, that they’re looking at. So there is a balance there. This is not all about evil employers who are discriminating against the mature worker. Oftentimes, when people come to an interview, they are bringing so much information about who they are and what they do that they have lost focus on explaining to the employer how those skills are going to be applicable in that specific environment.

CAVANAUGH: And, Carleen, I wonder if you could tell us really quickly basically what is a Plan B?

MACKAY: Well Plan B is the strategy. What you heard just a few minutes ago from Bill was tactics. Lots of resumes to lots of employers and no results. (audio dropout) …very, very quickly has to include how to deal with being overqualified, how you send in material, how you talk with people, and so forth. That’s all part of strategy.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Martin is calling from El Cajon. Good morning, Martin. Welcome to These Days.

MARTIN (Caller, El Cajon): Good morning. How you doing today?

CAVANAUGH: I’m doing great. How about yourself?

MARTIN: Great. Hey, I’ve got one comment about the guy that just called. I agree with him in regards to the businesses and stuff like that, that when he brings a lot of information to the table. You can limit the amount of information that you do present to them at a time, but they do tend to, you know, discriminate—and I hate to use that word—but they do tend to discriminate because of the individual’s age and qualifications and I don’t believe the fact that they’re – don’t believe that they’re going to be happy there but I believe it’s the fact that they’re looking at their payroll costs. Businesses plan to rotate payroll, employees on their payroll, at three or four year mark because they keep payroll costs down that way. They don’t have to pay the healthcare, a lot of times, for the first six months or one year after hiring a new employee and, you know, basically it’s all boiled down to the payroll costs and keeping the business’s costs down and payrolls and stuff like that. They tend to hire the younger people because they tend to be more agreeable to the lower pay whereas in looking at the older person have a lot more qualifications, a lot more potential for a quick advancement and stuff like that.

CAVANAUGH: Martin, I understand you, and thank you for your call. I want to – Charlotte, from what Martin is saying, it seems that he’s saying that employers kind of plan to have their payroll rotate a little bit more than – their employees rotate a little bit more than older workers perhaps are used to and, therefore, they are reluctant to give older workers a chance because they know once they’re hired they’re probably not going to leave.

TENNEY: I don’t want to paint employers with any one brush. Employers have a hard row to hoe. They have got to keep their business afloat and they are always interested in hiring the person who’s going to offer them the best solution to their problem. If you walk through the door and you can show them that you are the best solution to their problem—and that means financially, skill-wise, attitude and everything—then you will be hired. In the program that I’m in, we have federal guidelines and we are required to transition a significant number of people out of our program and into work and they are going. There are employers who are out there who are finding value and people are – the ones who get the jobs are the ones who are able to explain to the employer how they’re going to be valuable and solve the employer’s problem in real time now.

CAVANAUGH: Charlotte and Carleen, we’re out of time. I want to thank you both so much for being with us today. Carleen MacKay is Workforce Policy advisor for AARP California, author of “Plan B for Boomers.” Thanks a lot, Carleen.

MACKAY: You’re welcome.

CAVANAUGH: And Charlotte Tenney is employment specialist for Employment and Community Options. We want to let everyone know that the San Diego 50-Plus Learning Forum will be held at the Educational Cultural Complex on Ocean View Boulevard, Saturday, November 7th. The event is free but reservations are required. You can call 1-877-926-8309 for more information or you can just go to, and you can go to if you’d like to post a comment to what you’ve heard this morning. Now coming up, the story behind a beautiful new children’s book about Jackie Robinson. That’s next as These Days continues here on KPBS.