State Representative Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford), House Chair of the Program Review and Investigations Committee (PRI), welcomed an investigative report that examines the challenges facing unemployed workers age 50 years and older re-entering the workforce. The study, authorized by the committee earlier this year, was released and unanimously approved during the most recent PRI meeting on Wednesday in preparation for legislation in the upcoming 2014 legislative session.
“I am encouraged with the findings, recommendations and results of this report,” Rep. Mushinsky stated. “Unemployed older workers are struggling to find employment to meet their financial obligations under the burden of false perceptions and presumptions about their abilities.” The report found that while the over-50 age group were less likely to lose their jobs, they were most likely to face long-term, debilitating unemployment after a job loss, remaining out of work for a year or longer. Almost 36 percent of the state’s workforce is in the 50+ age group.
The report found many programs and services available to help unemployed adults that include resources at the state’s technical high schools and community colleges, as well as labor agencies, nonprofit organizations and educational settings. However, those programs assist all unemployed individuals and only a few target older adults. The report compared those programs with data available and found some had higher reemployment success rates than others. The most successful had an on-the-job-training component.
“Older adults who have lost their jobs need our consideration, especially as families rely on their income to support a variety of needs,” Rep. Mushinsky added. “In addition, the stress of long-term unemployment takes a toll on both the financial and medical health of the unemployed.”
Some of the recommendations include the prohibition of potential employers from publishing job opening advertisements that discriminate against long-term unemployed individuals, expanding the CT Works Career Centers online learning and a professional resume writer credential, a one-page reference of programs for older workers, as well as financial options for students studying at non-credit vocational programs and modifications to the STEP UP (subsidized training) program.
“The next step for our committee is to draft a bill that seeks to address the recommendations put forth in the report,” Rep. Mushinsky said. “I look forward to working with my co-chairman, Sen. John Kissel, and our colleagues on the most cost-effective and comprehensive approaches to assisting job-seeking older workers.”
The Program Review and Investigations Committee is the legislature’s bipartisan investigative panel. In the next month the committee will issue recommendations on the transition of young adults out of the Department of Children and Families and the sustainability of the state park system. The committee will then vote on proposed legislation based on these reports as well as a previously released study on UConn affordability.