Looking for a job in a field that offers both stability and stellar growth prospects? If so, you might want to take a closer look at the retirement industry.
Once a narrow niche market, the retirement industry has undergone remarkable expansion in recent years. The traditional nursing home is now only one of dozens of options, ranging from comprehensive care assisted-living facilities to active-lifestyle communities that cater to the 50-plus crowd.
Despite the remarkable diversity that today’s retirement facilities offer, they all share one important characteristic in common: staffs that possess many of the same skills and experiences that are called upon and cultivated in the hospitality industry. This point of similarity makes the retirement industry a great prospect for hospitality industry workers who are thinking about exploring a new field.
So what’s the secret behind the retirement industry’s exponential growth in recent years? There are a lot of factors that have contributed to it, but experts say the most significant one is the dramatic expansion of the older population.
January 1st, 2006 marked an important milestone for the older population: the 60th anniversary of the so-called “baby boom” that began when returning soldiers began starting families at the end of World War II. As the first wave of Baby Boomers begin to reach their sixties, it is expected that the already-strong retirement industry will expand even further to meet the growing needs of this segment of the population.
Over the next decade, an estimated 77 million men and women will cross the threshold into “seniorhood” in the United States alone. When the last of the Baby Boomers turn 60, it is expected that their total number will approach 110 million. Any way you measure it, the growing senior population is bound to have a dramatic impact on the economy – and the job market.
Indeed, analysts have predicted that the retirement and elder care services industries will be some of the most promising employment markets in the years to come. By the year 2012, it is expected that careers in these markets will increase by nearly 40% over current levels. In the United States, it is estimated that as many as one in four of all new jobs created over the next decade will be linked to the elder care industry in some way.
But according to eldercare expert Marion Somers, Ph.D., the size of the retirement industry isn’t all that is changing. There’s also a new, more positive outlook on elderly life that is revolutionizing the industry.
In the past, there was a stronger emphasis on illness and infirmity in the industry. Today, however, retirement industry facilities are focused on providing a more holistic, life-affirming approach to senior living. Although comprehensive health care is still a big part of the retirement industry, there’s also a strong emphasis on helping residents have fun and enjoy an active community life.
As an example, industry leader Brookdale Senior Living operates residential facilities that span a very broad spectrum, including independent living, personalized assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing. The variety of options available today means more choice for seniors – and more opportunities for jobseekers. According to Brookdale Director of Recruiting Gayle Michel, the company has had great success filling new positions with “service-oriented” workers with hospitality industry backgrounds.
If you’re a hospitality industry worker who loves helping people and has been considering a career change, keep the rapidly expanding retirement industry in mind. There are literally thousands of opportunities available for employees with foodservice know-how and a strong commitment to top-notch service.