by Andrea T. Tull, University of Massachusetts, Boston
The public sector is at risk for skills shortages resulting from the retirement of older workers, mainly Boomers, who will be exiting the labor force over the next 5 to 10 years. In Massachusetts, state agencies are recognizing the potential risk to operations resulting from these impending retirements, and agency leaders are beginning to question what can be done to retain older workers, particularly those in leadership, technical or specialized job titles. Incentivizing older workers to continue working beyond the normal retirement age is difficult within the Massachusetts Public Employee Pension System, which is designed to encourage workers to retire after reaching the maximum pension benefit. Agencies have one policy tool at their disposal to mitigate knowledge or skill loss from retirements; a mechanism within the pension laws that allows retirees to return to work as a contract employee. This policy has important implications for state agencies interested in retaining skilled employees, as well as retirees who need to maximize their post-retirement income or wish to continue to work for other reasons. This dissertation will utilize multiple methods and analyses to 1) determine the retirement risk faced by agencies in the Health and Human Services Secretariat, 2) measure the historical utilization of post-retirement contracting, 3) predict future use of such contracting, and 4) analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of the post retirement contracting policy versus other policy options for retaining experienced staff.