The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

November 10, 2013

Is the pipeline to career advancement broken?

RICHMOND — “Honey, have you checked our financials this month?” An individual asks their spouse.

“Yes, and it’s not looking good. Our investments aren’t growing like we’d hoped, and the healthcare crisis is affecting the premiums and co-pays we’re paying every month,” replies the spouse.

The individual asks another question, “Do you think we’ll ever be able to retire?”

The spouse shakes their head and replies, “It doesn’t appear we’ll have that option anytime soon, especially if we want to maintain the lifestyle we have now.”

Another family is struggling with a different scenario. A single parent with three children (one who is attending college, but living at home, and the other two who are in high school), are reviewing the family’s budget.

Everyone knows money is tight, and everyone is having to pull their own weight around the house. The single parent has struggled to make ends meet ever since their spouse passed away from cancer a few years back.

The medical bills and funeral expenses were overwhelming and without life insurance, there was no way to ease the burden of debt the family is experiencing now.

The family’s savings have been drained, and they are only one paycheck away from being hungry or homeless.

The children ask the parent, “When do you think you’ll get to take a break and retire from all this?”

The parent replies, “I’ll never get to see retirement. Retirement is only for rich people.”

With five generations currently employed in the American workforce, and an economy that has been rocky since the Great Recession began, the pipeline to career advancement has become clogged.

Individuals on the verge of retirement were hit the hardest by the recent economic downturns. Their savings and financial portfolios dropped, and they were unable to support the standard of living they had become accustomed to.

Additionally, almost half of all young college graduates unemployed, and they are returning home to live with their parents who must now support adult children.

This has a huge impact on the future of our workforce because older workers are delaying retirement, or refusing to retire.

When workers cannot afford to retire, they stay in the workforce longer to maintain the higher income they need to meet expenses, support their families and maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

But this delay also creates a backlog of workers waiting to enter the workforce.

The employment pipeline not only affects the outcome of seasoned workers in their career growth and advancement opportunities, it also affects entry-level jobs that would typically be filled by teens. What once was a rite of passage for a teenager -- getting a job -- has become a distant memory as fewer and fewer teens are working because of the many adults who are forced to occupy those jobs just to make ends meet.

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