Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Workforce Development Programs for Older Americans

The Supporting Older Workers Act, has been introduced with the intent of improving the employment, economic success and the well-being of America’s older workers. The legislation would strengthen the workforce development system for older workers and reduce current barriers in the labor market by improving career counseling and training opportunities, creating a grant program to support older worker coordinators and establishing a new Older Workers Bureau at the Department of Labor (DOL).
Due to the economic downturn surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, last year saw more workers aged 65 and older leave the labor force than in any year since 1948 when the U.S. began tracking this information. Older workers who are unemployed typically take twice as long as younger individuals to find new employment, and often enter jobs with significantly lower wages than their previous job.

To address these workforce disparities, the Supporting Older Workers Act would:

  • Improve career counseling and training for older workers: The bill would allow localities to use federal funding to focus on older workers’ employment options and training needs and create specialized centers for older workers at local American Jobs Centers.
  • Create a grant program to support older worker coordinators: The legislation would create a grant program for state and local workforce boards to hire special coordinators, who will promote the employment and workforce development of older workers and coordinate with labor organizations, Area Agencies on Aging, community colleges, non-profits and more to cultivate supportive services for older workers.
  • Establish an Older Workers Bureau at the Department of Labor: Similar to the Women’s Bureau at the DOL, the bill would create an Older Workers Bureau that is designed to advance employment, economic success, and well-being of older individuals through policy development, research and reporting, and technical assistance.