Training Older Workers: Implications for HRD/HPT Professionals Page: 91
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Performance Improvement Quarterly, 11(4) pp. 91-102
Training Older Workers: Implications for
Jeff M. Allen
University of North Texas
Raytheon Systems Company
In corporations across America, a
race is on to find new ways to maximize
human capital. An emphasis on life-
long learning will be vital for the suc-
cess of our future workforce. As demo-
graphic shifts occur, the "older worker"
will emerge as a primary target for this
human development effort. This ar-
ticle explores the implications of this
demographic shift for the human re-
source development and human per-
formance technology (HRD/HPT) pro-
fessional and recommends strategies
for meeting this business need.
First, we discuss the realities of
this demographic shift and compare
A new challenge has emerged for
the training and development profes-
sion. Many human resource develop-
ment and human performance tech-
nology (HRD/HPT) professionals
have assumed that the workforce of
the future will be similar to the cur-
rent workforce, which is predomi-
nantly made up of 35-50 year olds.
Yet demographic statistics do not in-
dicate this to be true. Significant
changes in our population demo-
graphics will require HRD/HPT pro-
fessionals to modify workplace envi-
ronments, reassess workforce moti-
vation strategies, and alter training
practices to suit the needs of older
our current workforce demographics
to those of the future. Next, we exam-
ine the common myths about the "older
worker," as well as what current re-
search reports about this special popu-
Finally, we examine the impact of
this trend on our profession. We dis-
cuss strategies for modifying the work-
place environment, reassessing
workforce motivational strategies,
and altering training practices in or-
der to serve this older worker popula-
tion. In conclusion, we look at the im-
plications for the future in HRD/HPT
workers. If we as a profession to not
begin to make this shift now, the
HRD/HPT professionals of the future
will struggle to change their prac-
tices in reaction to these demo-
By the turn of the century, the
median age of U.S. workers will be
45; by 2005, more than 15% of the
workforce will be over 55 years old.
These figures are staggering when
one considers the fact that the pro-
portion of those under 18-new
workforce entrants-is expected to
stay constant at around 24% between
the years 2000 and 2025 (Couper &
Pratt, 1997). "Projections from the
VOLUME 11, NUMBER 4/1998 91
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Allen, Jeff M. & Hart, Marcy. Training Older Workers: Implications for HRD/HPT Professionals, article, 1998; [Hoboken, New Jersey]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31072/m1/1/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Information.