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Over 55 Workers Key to Closing Labor Gap

A new report predicts the U.S. will need more experienced workers like John Kostibas, a former engineer who retrained to become a high school math teacher.


Although jobs are tough to find now, a renowned labor economist predicts that there will be more positions available than workers to fill them in the United States by 2018.

Barry Bluestone, dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, projects that within eight years, there could be 5 million job vacancies in the U.S., nearly half of which (2.4 million) will be opportunities in education, health care, government and nonprofit organizations. And, Bluestone says, workers over 55 will be needed to fill them.

"If the baby boom generation retires from the labor force at the same rate and age as current older workers, the baby bust generation that follows will likely be too small to fill many of the projected new jobs," he writes in After the Recovery: Help Needed - The Coming Labor Shortage and How People in Encore Careers Can Help Solve It, which he co-authored with Mark Melnick, deputy director for research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

His report assumes healthy economic growth and no change in immigration or labor force participation rates. It is one of four papers written by independent experts and released March 22 by MetLife Foundation and Encore.org, a nonprofit organization working to promote encore careers – second acts for the greater good.

Bluestone zeroes in on 15 existing jobs that will provide the largest number of potential new encore career opportunities in the coming decade. In three other reports, researchers worked with experts in work force issues to identify new potential career opportunities in education, health care and the green economy. Among the emerging jobs they identify are adjunct teacher, chronic illness coach, energy auditor, patient navigator, teacher coach, sustainability consultant and home modification specialist.

  • Read the four reports: After the Recovery and the three research papers on emerging jobs in education, health care and the green economy.
  • Learn nine tips on how to use the data to prepare for your future job from Marci Alboher, our in-house encore careers expert.