How Technology Has Changed the Role of Older Workers

There was a time when older workers were regarded by their co-workers for their knowledge and experience in the workplace.  However, there is a growing trend worldwide of companies laying off high-salaried older employees for less experienced younger workers for a lower price.  One of the reasons commonly cited for discrimination and job-loss among workers 55 years and older is because of their lagging technology skills.

This might be true for some workers, but certainly not for all.  Most statistics show that there is a demand among older workers to be tech savvy.  In the United States alone, between 2008 and 2012, the percentage of people aged 65 – 74 who own a computer more than doubled from 31 percent to 64 percent, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.  For individuals 75 years and older, computer ownership tripled from 13 percent to 42 percent.

Over the years, we have worked with many older individuals who are not only very eager to stay up to date with tech tools, but were also interested in starting their own online businesses.  Generally these entrepreneurs are a mix of those recently laid off or going into semi retirement.  We are also seeing a growing number of older workers who simply cannot retire because of the high financial burden the economic downturn has caused them.  Online businesses are a perfect opportunity for older workers to share their valuable expertise with netizens of all ages while making a stable income.  Don’t underestimate the value of your skills.  There are many people online who are in need of your experience.  Below are some tips we have shared over the years on how and why starting your own online business might work for you.

  • Flexibility – You have total control over where, when and how you work.  And now with the growing popularity of mobile technology, you can take your online business anywhere you go if you want, especially if you want to travel or see your family.
  • Low Barrier of Entry – Opening an online business costs only a small fraction of what it would cost for a traditional, brick-and-mortar operation.  Depending on what kind of business you are doing, getting a website up can cost minimal.
  • Digital information Empire – There are a variety of ways to sell products and services online.  You can sell your expertise through e-books, podcasts and video tutorials.  Many people can offer consulting, coaching and teaching opportunities through webinars with individuals or large groups of people.  For selling physical products you can set up an e-commerce site.  You can also charge a monthly subscription fee to access a section of your website where premium content, products and services are offered to members.
  • Hire Freelancers – Instead of hiring staff members, find freelancers who can work on short and long term projects.  Websites like Elance, Craigslist and the International Virtual Assistants Association(IVVA) can provide you support in many areas of your business.  Hiring independent contractors can help you keep operation costs down, while turning a bigger profit.
  • Social Engagement – There is a reason social is in social media.  Whether you are blogging, tweeting or “Facebooking,” these social networking tools are not only good for marketing your business, but also for learning new information, growing your professional network with like-minded individuals, exchanging ideas and, of course, socializing.
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