Gray Power: Investing in older employees pays off quickly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Studies have demonstrated that it can take older employees as much as twice as long to learn a new task. For employers considering the training or retraining of their employees, this added training time can mean real dollars subtracted from the bottom line. &8220;You can&8217;t teach an old dog new tricks&8221; is still an idea held by many.

There are some concerns that older adults have not had as much exposure to high technology as the younger generation. Employers find it more difficult to learn to use computers, electronic cash registers, high-tech office equipment and the like.

Reality: The training investment for employers is quickly repaid by retirees.

Since older workers tend to stay on the job longer, the increased time invested in their training is quickly repaid. It is also repaid by older adults&8217; ability to retain information longer and perform a job with fewer mistakes. Older adults can indeed learn new technology with the proper instruction. Older adults have actually been able to learn the job more quickly because older adults have a greater fund of experience to draw on.

There are strategies for those seeking employment. They include:

-Tell prospective employers about any current education and training you&8217;re engaged in.

-On your resume, include any recent degrees you&8217;ve earned, any workshops you&8217;ve attended, certificates, and any other recent learning experiences that show you can learn new tricks.

-Discuss your interest in learning new concepts, procedures, and ideas.

-Let employers know that you are not afraid to learn and grow professionally.

Here are some strategies that may help you keep your job.

-Keep up with your professional development.

-Never pass up an opportunity to keep learning and growing on the job, or you may find yourself unprepared for future changes in your organization.

-Develop a can-do attitude when it comes to learning new tasks or procedures.

-Should you need extra assistance in learning new technology in your organization, seek it out.

-Get a tutor.

-Attend an outside class.

-Do what it takes to keep up.

This information came from the book, UnRetirement by Fyock and Dorton.

Dr. Marvin Copes, located in Maylene, is an Education and Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama. He can be reached by e-mail at