Nominations sought for Dept. of Aging award

Aging doesn’t necessarily mean retiring.

More and more older adults are staying in the workforce or seeking employment to supplement their incomes, but finding a job can be difficult for aging workers.

“It’s a growing concern,” said Farley Wright, executive director for Experience Inc., which serves as the Warren County Area Agency on Aging. “Due to economics, people work longer or come off of retirement to develop a supplemental income. Many workers 55 to 65 are also caregivers, which poses a daunting challenge to employers.”

In recognition of those employers willing to give older adults a chance at employment, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging has instituted the Champions of Older Workers Award to honor one employer each year for efforts to hire and train older adults.

“Older adults are a great asset for businesses and communities because of their experience, knowledge and work ethic,” Secretary of Aging Brian Duke said in a department release. “The department is proud to acknowledge employers who bring skill and diversity to their workplace by hiring and using the talents of older Pennsylvanians.”

This year’s nomination process for the award has already begun, and, according to the Department of Aging, letters of notification have been sent to area agencies on aging, workforce investment boards, PA CareerLink offices and the state legislature.

“We did receive the notice for the annual award,” Wright noted. “This process requires that nominees for the award be submitted via the area agency on aging, and we were provided an application form as part of the original notice.”

According to Wright, the easiest way to nominate an employer is by e-mailing a request for an application form to the agency on aging at info@experienceinc.com.

Only one employer will be chosen statewide.

“There are a number of factors that are considered such as retention and recruitment of older workers, flexible work arrangements, mentoring programs, pre-retirement financial planning, phased retirement plans, etc,” Wright said. “These characteristics go into the narrative of the application.”

While Wright said he isn’t aware of any past award winners locally, he does believe there are local employers making adjustments for an older workforce.

“I suspect many of our employers are already faced with these issues and have done some adjusting already in an effort to accommodate,” he said.

The winner of the award will be honored on May 8, 2014.