Within five years, a quarter of the U.S. workforce will be 55 or older, and many people hope and expect to keep working into their late 60s and beyond.

But age discrimination is a growing concern among workers and job seekers.

Between 1990 and 2017, the number of age-related discrimination charges filed by those 65 and older has doubled, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

With low unemployment, the issue is taking on greater urgency, said Steve Jewell, a talent recruiter and Human Resources veteran, who organized a forum on Wednesday aimed at hiring managers and recruiters.

“Many employers are scrambling to find talent,” he said. “They’re hiring younger and younger when there’s an aging workforce that might stay on part-time, quarter time, or might be open to retraining, reassignment."

Aside from being a legal risk companies, ageism and a narrow view of the value of older workers could cripple busines growth.

“Are we ignoring a readily available workforce because we’ve got them tagged as too old, not interested, too close to retirement, not-native technology, and all sorts of barriers?” 

Older workers represent the largest candidate pool in the workplace, as 10 thousand baby boomers a day turn 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many are looking for work. Surveys show many feel the subtle and difficult-to-prove hand of age discrimination at work.

The event, hosted by the Minnesota Talent and Recruiting Network, includes a keynote by Steve Grove, commissioner of the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

State Demographer Susan Brower and Kate Schaefers, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Advanced Careers initiative, are among the panelists that will examine trends and the impact of an aging workforce on Minnesota employment and employers.

The event will be held Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Cost is $20 for members, $40 non members. Author, speaker and economic commentator Chris Farrell, who will also be on the panel, will be signing copies of his book, available at a discount. Details at mntrn.org.

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