Money & Business

Workforce Development Key for Senior Living Industry

By / Feb 17, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

The senior living industry has 10 years to find 1.2 million new recruits, according to a new roadmap report from industry group Argentum. To attract and retain employees, particularly young professionals, the industry is rolling out new education initiatives.

Attracting 1.2 million employees to your industry in 10 years sounds extremely daunting.

But, according to a new report by Argentum, formerly the Assisted Living Federation of America, that’s how many workers are needed to help care for the country’s aging baby boomer population.

Getting to 2025: A Roadmap for the Senior Living Industry” [PDF] was driven by a six-month road tour across the U.S. in which the trade association hosted 25- to 30 sessions with state affiliate members, non-members, legislators, policy makers, and other stakeholders to discuss the future of senior living.

Though it wasn’t a surprise workforce development was a priority for members, Argentum President and CEO James Balda told Associations Now he was shocked by the volume of employees the industry needs to attract in the next decade. Of the 1.2 million recruits, about 350,000 will be new positions, and another 900,000 will replace retiring professionals.

“What we released was really a roadmap to say these are what the challenges are that are facing the industry,” Balda said. “Developing a roadmap is an exercise all associations should go through.” He added that concept of environmental scanning and looking ahead 10 years was extremely helpful to Argentum in identifying major pain points and developing a three-year strategic plan.

While Balda considers recruiting 1.2 million new employees within the next 10 years an achievable goal, he said the industry must be smart about how it obtains and retains talent. It’s not that young people are uninterested in working in the senior living industry; they just don’t understand it. “There’s a need to better educate young professionals about the career opportunities that exist in caring for seniors,” he said.

Education in Action

To help with that goal, Argentum has created a certification program for executive directors of senior living communities. This is not only a way to recognize these individuals—who are essentially small business owners—but it’s also a chance to give those entering the workforce a better-defined career path and something to work toward. “One of the things we’re doing is working on trying to professionalize the industry,” Balda said.

Argentum has also partnered with the University of Southern California on an executive management program and requested information from a handful of other universities to help identify what curriculum they may have that would be helpful for the industry to tap into and find future employees.

“One thing we are starting to take a look at is the need for foundational research to understand what the key engagement drivers are for employees in the industry,” Balda said. Argentum wants to know why people come into the industry and why they stay in order to leverage that information moving forward.

Though Argentum has “a lot more work to do surrounding a full-fledged workforce development plan,” Balda said the group is well underway in achieving its goal of increasing interests in not only the industry but also a career in senior living.

Katie Rucke

Katie Rucke is former Associate Editor for Associations Now. More »

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