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Boomers Fighting Off Early Retirement

Posted Apr 18 2013 9:46am

For many people, being on the far side of 40 in the workplace brings the confidence of experience, of having hit a certain professional stride.  It can also bring a nagging insecure feeling that younger colleagues—the ones with 5,000 Twitter followers , who designed their first website in middle school—are fast becoming the new office stars.

image  SENIOR INITIATIVE: To keep up with his younger colleagues' skills, Doug Gould has taken more than 10 new-technology classes.  Gould, a 50-year-old advertising veteran, says some of that anxiety arose when co-workers called him by nicknames like "Uncle Doug" and " Coach ."

"I think those were terms of endearment," says Mr. Gould, a creative director for the Boston ad agency Allen & Gerritsen, who started his career back in 1984 using tracing paper and markers to design newspaper ads. "But if you read between the lines, it also meant 'old guy.' I get nervous about what that means."

For many people in the back half of their careers , the meaning is becoming all too clear: To keep from drifting, or being nudged, into an early retirement, it's time to add more high-tech arrows to their professional quiver—to refresh their skills with, say, some social-media or mobile-app expertise. As Mr. Gould has learned, competing with younger colleagues who grew up texting, tweeting, using Facebook  and playing videogames requires constant work to stay up-to-date.

Manchild Older workers have accumulated knowledge that is hard to replace , research shows.  But lagging tech skills are one reason job-loss rates for experienced older workers 55 and over have exceeded those for younger workers by a growing margin for the past decade, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2013

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