VOICES: People age 65 and older could be secret weapon for labor force

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest opinion column by Mary Tyler appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The world has surpassed a demographic milestone. Since the beginning of recorded history, young children have outnumbered their elders.

Now, the number of people aged 65 or older outnumber children under age 5, as reported by the World Health Organization. The aging of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 is a contributing factor.

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The U.S. Census Bureau report indicates that the 65-and-older population grew by over a third or more than 13.78 million during the past decade, and by 3.2% (more than 1.68 million) from 2018 – 2019.

“Workplace leaders, older citizens represent a wealth of knowledge and life experience."

- Mary Tyler

To help put this dynamic into perspective, each day, roughly 10,000 individuals turn 65. The remarkable increase in life expectancy and aging population acceleration result from people remaining healthy and independent well into old age. This phenomenon also creates incredible opportunities for the workplace and meaningful volunteer possibilities that will benefit our communities.

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A poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (University of Chicago) reports that 23% of workers, including 2 in 10 of those over 50, don’t expect to stop working; roughly another 25% of Americans say they will continue working beyond their 65th birthday.

Right here, within the Miami Valley, there are approximately 179,000 people 60-74 years old, either currently employed or actively looking for employment. More mature citizens will continue to be engaged in the workforce and a contributor to their families and communities.

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As mature individuals, they bring a different approach to their jobs and volunteer roles. They are accustomed to taking their jobs seriously and feeling a type of responsibility and loyalty to their organizations that many younger individuals may lack. The options and benefits are numerous. Here are select roles and services workplace leaders might consider when seeking qualified, experienced individuals for employment or volunteer roles.


Employment: Full-time, part-time, seasonal consultation, short-term projects, remote assignments

Volunteerism: Direct service, e.g., mentors, tutors, community navigators; in-direct assistance, e.g., scientists, volunteer coordinators, strategic planners, historians, office assistants, marketing specialists, and many other areas of expertise


  • Brings institutional knowledge and perspectives, social maturity and stability;
  • Demonstrates emotional and intellectual involvement;
  • Guided by workplace wisdom; job performance improves with experience, especially productivity; generally, knows where to invest time and effort to avoid costly mistakes;
  • Provides mentoring and reverse mentoring that can boost morale and productivity;
  • Offers flexible work schedules;
  • Training costs are typically lower; experience with other ways to do things, coupled with an awareness of related topics, gives an edge to learning new approaches, and
  • Individuals are committed to lifelong learning.

Workplace leaders, older citizens represent a wealth of knowledge and life experience. They are valuable sources of talent and established leadership you cannot afford to ignore. Your ability to leverage the dynamics of aging — the changing realities affecting your organization — will lead to more success.

Mary E. Tyler, a proud Baby Boomer, is an engaged community leader living in the Dayton area. She is also the principal of Mary E. Tyler Consulting, and a Certified Diversity Professional. Tyler recently retired as the executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton. Guest columns are submitted  or requested fact-based opinion pieces typically of 300 to 450 words.

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