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AARP honors MIT for commitment to older workers

MIT has made top grades as an employer of workers age 50 and older, according to AARP. Citing MIT's excellence in recruitment practices, flexible work schedules and benefits for current and retired employees, AARP named MIT as one of the 2006 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50.

MIT is one of two Bay State employers -- the other is Massachusetts General Hospital -- on the AARP national list of 50 companies and organizations that demonstrate significant commitment to the aging workforce. This is the third time MIT has ranked among AARP's top 10.

"MIT and Mass General are ahead of the curve when it comes to preparing for a seismic shift in the workforce," said AARP Massachusetts State Director Deborah Banda. "In developing and executing policies and practices targeted to recruit, retrain and retain 50+ workers, they are charting a course for other employers to follow."

Banda noted the current workforce demographics: The leading edge of the 76-million-member baby boom generation is nearing traditional retirement age. At the same time, the pool of younger, replacement workers is smaller than previous generations and may not be sufficient to meet employer needs. "In Massachusetts," Banda emphasizes, "this double-edged sword becomes sharper when we consider population declines and sluggish economic growth. Employers who prepare today have the potential to better compete tomorrow."

MIT ranked seventh in the nationwide AARP survey. With one-third of its workforce over age 50, the university leads its industry in embracing the labor shift, excelling in numerous categories evaluated by AARP.

"We are thrilled to have our standard of excellence recognized again here at MIT," said Sherwin Greenblatt, MIT's executive vice president and treasurer. "MIT works hard to foster a positive work environment where people can excel regardless of age. From educational opportunities to health benefits to comprehensive retirement options, I believe MIT is simply a great place to work."

MIT received additional accolades from AARP for its phased retirement program, generous 401(k) company contributions, opportunities for job sharing and flex time, and its MITemps program that helps retirees come back to the workforce on a temporary basis.

A new AARP survey, "Preparing for an Aging Workforce: A Focus on Massachusetts Employers," also released today, showed that only half of employers in the Greater Boston area believe workforce shortages loom on the horizon, and less than 20 percent have taken real steps to prepare for the impact of a boomer exodus.

"Bottom line: AARP Best Employers value 50+ workers for their experience, motivation and strong engagement," said Banda. "And their innovations appear to be paying dividends in improving productivity and morale, and in boosting retention rates. To compete, more employers will need to recognize the advantages that these workers bring to the table."

AARP's survey, "Preparing for an Aging Workforce: A Focus on Massachusetts Employers," was conducted with 407 Eastern Massachusetts employers by phone and on the Internet between July 5 and Aug. 17, 2006. The margin of error is +/-4.8 percent.

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