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Should older employees make room for younger workers?

Jun 23, 2011

Many baby boomers imagined they’d work for about 30 years then retire in their late 50s or early 60s with enough youth and cash to enjoy retirement. But in these tough economic times, it’s become increasingly difficult for older workers to quit their jobs when originally envisioned. As a result, they’re hanging on longer, often to the chagrin of employers and young workers alike. Now, many aspiring workers, whether they’re fresh out of college or just entering the work force, are struggling to find job openings. Some feel they’re getting a raw deal, when they see 65-year-olds who are still working, despite being eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Employers too can have reservations about some older workers, whose job performance might deteriorate with age. But it’s a delicate matter to broach for any boss. While companies might benefit from new blood, there’s no substitute for the wisdom that only comes from decades of experience, right? So what, if anything, can be done? Should older workers be pushed out simply to let younger ones in? Should younger workers demand a place at the table? Is there a rift forming between the generations over workplace opportunities as the old and the young vie for limited resources? Should there be mandatory retirement so by law we all know when to step aside?

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