Boomer Women - challenges and opportunities
Back in the 1960’s, before the Boomers began to enter the workforce and launch careers, the workforce was primarily male dominated. But as Boomers entered the workforce, the situation gradually changed and percentage of women working increased. According to the US Department of Labor, since 1967 the percentage of women participating in the labor force has increased by nearly half, from 41 percent to 60 percent, and the proportion of employed women working all year round has climbed by 18 percentage points, from 52 to 70 percent. The Boomer generation is the first to include a major proportion of women who have spent most of their lives in the labor force.
Many of these working women today are approaching retirement and are not well prepared financially to support themselves for the next 20+ years. Research from the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) finds that a relatively low percentage of Boomer women have confidence in their ability to have a financially secure retirement. This research found that women are dealing with many financial challenges in their daily working lives and these challenges are impeding their ability to prepare for or go into retirement. Overall, only 30 percent of Boomer women express confidence in their ability to amass enough savings to live comfortably after they leave the workforce.
Reasons are numerous. In general, women earned less than men for comparable jobs, impacting their ability to save as well as potentially impacting the level of their Social Security benefits. Many of them took breaks from their careers to raise children, further impacting their retirement assets. During the last recession many Boomer women were subject of cut-backs at their companies, losing steady income and having to dip into their retirement savings. Women also have less access to employer sponsored retirement plans.
Having raised their children, many Boomer women are now playing a role of a caregiver, looking after their parents. Without flexible working arrangements at their places of employment, they often have to drop out of the workforce much earlier than they would like or can afford.
All of these factors are creating a situation where Boomer women are faced with uncertain retirement and not finding the right employment opportunities. They need flexible work arrangements and part time work to balance their family responsibilities while securing their own retirement lifestyle. There are a few steps that Boomer women can take to meet these goals
Find Focus Area
The first question that comes to mind is if part-time or freelance work is only for younger, more creative types that provide technology, graphic design or related services. Truth of the matter is that pretty much anything can be done by a freelancer these days, offering plenty of exciting opportunities. Boomer women exploring freelance work should first identify their focus areas that will provide both income and enjoyment.
In selecting a focus area, it is natural to fall back on what your core area of expertise is. This is great if you are able to think of your skills as something to be packaged as a service. But you may have to dig deep and think outside of the box to identify your "secondary" skills can also offer up freelancing opportunities. Perhaps these are areas that you feel passionate about or wanted to pursue but never got a chance. Don't be hindered by a notion that you do not have the necessary skills or experience to find a freelancing opportunity.
Maintain and Enhance Skills
If you feel that you need to update or upgrade your skills, there are plenty of free of low cost on-line educational resources that provide access to useful training materials;
http://oedb.org/open/ - provides over 10,000 of free online courses, focusing on business, arts and other areas;
https://alison.com/- one of the world’s largest free online learning platforms, providing 750 free courses at diploma and certificate level
http://www.gcflearning.org - offer a range of free basic tutorials on topics such as computers, work and career.
Women Boomers are not utilizing Internet resources as much as other segments of the population. However, continuous education must be a part of everyone’s retirement plans. With classes available on-line and mobile devices, there is no excuse not to be learning.
Join On-Line Platforms
Many companies want freelancers who can work outside of the office and online doing jobs that require just basic computer skills like sending emails and filling in forms. They are also open for freelancers to perform administrative tasks, doing accounting, managing customer relations and many other tasks. Many of these jobs are popping up every day on freelance web-sites such as Almarelo. As online talent marketplace platforms grow in importance and size, they can become an invaluable tool for the Baby Boomers wanting to stay active while in retirement.
Finally, starting a small business may be a suitable opportunity for many Boomer women. According to a Gallup study, Baby Boomers are twice as likely to want to start a business as Millennials. People over 50 represent one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the United States. Many types of business do not require significant investments and can be started if you have relevant skills and desire. Boomers turn to starting a business as a way to self-employment due to the tough job market over the past years. They start a business after a successful career, because they’ve been laid off and worry about the chances of being rehired.