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Berkshire Mayors Put Focus on Aging Workers

The Mayors of Pittsfield and North Adams are encouraging employers in Berkshire County to recognize National Employ Older Workers Week. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports from North Adams, where a proclamation was signed today.

Roger Suters, Director of Community Services at Berkshire Elder Services says that for Berkshire County, the loss of manufacturing jobs has pushed much of the younger work force out. Now, he says, the percentage of workers over the age of 55 in the area is 21%.

Heather Boulger of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board calls the effect the “silver tsunami” meaning that after many of the baby boomers begin to retire, there will be a shortage in skilled workers.

However, by 2014, it’s estimated that only 41% of those over the age of 55 will hold jobs, while those retiring will take valuable skills with them. So, Elder Services, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board and the mayors of Pittsfield and North Adams are reaching out to Berkshire County employers.

Today, Mayor Richard Alcombright of North Adams signed a proclamation.

Elder Services and the BCREB highlighted the Seniour Community Service Employment Program – a federal program which provides skills training for older individuals who may not be able to afford retraining on their own. Through community service work, workers also receive training on computers, on the job search, and other services.

Heather Boulger says that the Berkshire Regional Employment Board can help serve both older individuals looking for work, and younger workers that will require advanced skills for future employment, by pairing them together.

Currently, Berkshire County has the second oldest workforce out any other area in Massachusetts besides Cape Cod.

To help mark the occasion, Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi will also be joining Elder Services and the BCREB tomorrow to sign a proclamation to recognize National  Employ Older Workers Week tomorrow.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.