Book By: Beatty, Paulette T., & Visser, Roemer M.S., (Eds.)
Review By: Michael H. Turpin
Coordinator/Counseling & Advising
As the oldest of the baby boomers nears age 60, Beatty and Visser have compiled the contributions of academicians and practitioners “to help organizations in the private and public sectors prepare for the consequences of this graying of the workforce” (p. 3). The target audience consists of human resource professionals and institutional change agents, as well as the academic community and others who can help to shape public policy (p. 3). This is a “big picture” book, valuable to advisors who want to understand the workforce in its current, evolving state.
Interesting, well-written, and comprehensive, this volume begins with a picture of the workforce and the workplace of the future. The chapters that follow address seven interrelated issues that are critical for “accommodating a progressively aging workforce” (p. 13). Related to the needs of older workers and the institutions that employ them, topics include recruiting, training, developing, and to some degree, retaining older workers.
The organizational format of the book helps readers focus on the substance of core issues as well as on practical remedies for areas of concern. For five of the seven issues, the editors have included two chapters, one that is research oriented and one that is practitioner oriented. For the issues of intergenerational relations and the health of older workers, the editors present respectively two chapters which address distinct concerns. Each chapter includes recommendations and a summary, and the editors themselves present a synthesis of perspectives for each critical issue at the conclusion of each section. In a concluding chapter, the editors synthesize all seven issues and make conclusions that effectively frame the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle presented throughout the text. Case scenarios enhance their presentation.
In some edited volumes in which the perspectives, expertise, and writing styles of multiple authors have been compiled, the text lacks continuity. This is not the case with Thriving on an Aging Workforce. The editors have done a superb job, combining multiple sources of information on a variety of core issues related to aging workers into one comprehensive story. The real strengths of this book are its balance of research and practicality, its organizational structure, and its comprehensiveness of content.
Because college and university academic advisors primarily work with students entering the workforce for the first time, they may find that issues addressed in this book do not pertain to their role. However, community college advisors, who routinely deal with workers needing retraining, may find more applicability. Moreover, while the emphasis of this book is clearly on issues faced by human resource professionals, advising administrators could benefit from the book’s many research-based and practical strategies as they attempt to deal with their own advisors who may be nearing retirement age.
This having been said, one primary question comes to mind. How will the aging of baby boomers really affect the workforce? We do not know. We are certain only that challenges lie ahead. Educators and educational support personnel alike can benefit from Beatty and Visser’s treatise. Academic advisors on every level work with those preparing for the workforce, and we really do not know how or to what degree certain variables will affect that workforce. For a clear understanding of the issues at hand, this book is worth investigation.
Thriving on an aging workforce: Strategies for organizational and systemic change. (2005). Book by Beatty, Paulette T., & Visser, Roemer M.S., (Eds.). Review by Michael H. Turpin. Melbourne, Florida; Krieger Publishing Company, Melbourne, Florida. 216 pp. Price $38.50. ISBN #1-57524-200-1.