Now more than ever, the future of workers over age 45 is on the rocks, according to local and national workforce experts.

It's possible that nearly every employee entering the final couple decades of their career will need some type of tune-up in order to maintain it or shift gears.

To address the issue and discuss potential solutions, a town hall meeting titled "Re-Skilling the Mid-Career Workforce" is scheduled for Tuesday at Rutgers-New Brunswick, hosted by the university's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and national nonprofit WorkingNation.

Older worker
John Moore, Getty Images

More than 32 percent of New Jersey's unemployed workers have been out of work for more than six months — one of the highest rates of long-term joblessness in the country.

About half of the state's long-term unemployed are over the age of 45, according to Maria Heidkamp, a senior researcher at the Heldrich Center.

"We just know there are a lot of people who are either working or looking for work right now, who are just going to have to acquire some new skills and adapt to changes," Heidkamp told New Jersey 101.5.

She said the town hall event targets both older individuals who'd like to remain in the same field, as well as those who know they may need to move on due to automation or other technological advances.

“Never before have we faced the possibility that nearly every worker over age 45 may require re-skilling,” said WorkingNation founder and CEO Art Bilger in a news release. “Our goal with this event is to shine a light on this issue and begin to connect the dots for companies, workers, other organizations, and communities seeking solutions.”

Hundreds of area residents, university students, business leaders and others are scheduled to attend the conversation at Mastrobuono Theater.

Heidkamp is director of the Heldrich Center's New Start Career Network, which was established in 2015 specifically to assist job seekers aged 45 and older. The network offers free career services, including in-person and virtual coaching by trained volunteers.

"These are people in many cases who are highly-skilled, highly-educated, and they're still struggling," Heidkamp said. "From our population, 41 percent have four-year college degrees. A quarter of the group has a graduate degree."

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