Would You Like Fries with that Outboard?

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The story in Monday’s Trade Only Today about the success of a high school program in Maine using the American Boat and Yacht Council’s Fundamentals of Marine Service Technology curriculum brings to mind just the opposite: recruiting older employees to fill a dealership’s tech needs.

Specifically, I was reminded how fast-food company McDonald’s earlier this year began calling on AARP to help recruit 250,000 workers. It’s an interesting move against long-held demographic hiring assumptions. Of course, flipping burgers may not be comparable to rebuilding an outboard, but it’s a thought-provoking opener to possibilities.

McDonald’s says the move was motivated by increasing difficulty finding younger workers to fill vacancies. Sound familiar? So the fast-food giant has posted jobs on AARP’s online job board to do two things: reach low-income applicants and pilot a job-matching service for seniors in five states. Moreover, the move may signal some real underlying shifts.

First, McDonald’s isn’t unique in struggling to hire younger workers, so why not take a chance with older people? There are some mitigating factors. For example, Americans are living longer, but one in three baby boomers has less than $25,000 saved for retirement. It’s a common picture in many markets.

Lots of older people face financial uncertainty and must keep earning for a longer time. That means we can expect a rising quest for older workers in products and services, likely requiring some education or retraining but within acceptable limits. And there’s help for that with materials from, for example, from ABYC and manufacturers. There are even tax breaks in some states. Accordingly, older workers with good backgrounds could be worth consideration and prove to be a good bet.

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