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AARP honors MIT as a 'Best Employer'

MIT is the only university among 25 organizations cited by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in its third annual ranking of "Best Employers for Workers Over 50," which recognizes employers across the country that excel at recruiting, retraining and retaining mature workers.

The announcement will be made formally at a Business Leaders' Forum breakfast on Sept. 24 at the Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. Human Resources' Barbara Peacock-Coady, manager of career planning, and Ellen Cushman, retirement counselor, will represent MIT at the breakfast.

About 30 percent of MIT's 10,000 employees are over the age of 50 and 1,100 of them have worked at the Institute for 25 years or more.

"We have already begun to see the effects of an aging workforce on the organization," said Peacock-Coady. "To help MIT and its employees manage these changes, we're focusing on aging and generational diversity by implementing a series of programs."

The AARP commended MIT for its career consulting services, training and development opportunities, scholarship and loan programs, retirement financial planning consultation for employees, flexible work environment, gradual retirement options, and the new "Transitions at Work" program that provides resources and courses for older workers.

As a direct result of interviews with members of the MIT community, "Shifting Gears" and "Working Across Generations" are among the courses developed for the "Transitions at Work" program.

"These programs are designed to empower employees to take responsibility for their work and personal lives and help the organization adjust to these ongoing shifts," Peacock-Coady said.

According to an AARP survey, "Staying Ahead of the Curve 2003: The AARP Working in Retirement Study," also released at the breakfast, the majority of workers between the ages of 50 and 70 plan to work far into what has traditionally been viewed as their "retirement years," with nearly half (46 percent) envisioning themselves either working into their 70s or later.

Although the reasons for working longer varied from "a desire to stay mentally and physically active" to a desire to "remain productive and useful," most respondents say they will work in retirement almost as much for health care coverage as for money. When asked for the one major reason that they plan to work, 17 percent identify the "need for health benefits," and 22 percent cite a "need for money."

The November-December issue of AARP: The Magazine will include feature stories on the best employers.

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