On On November 13, at the request of Encore.org, SVP hosted a delegation from the Seoul 50 Plus Foundation. They were joined by Professor Junghee Lee, Ph.D. Program Director at PSU’s School of Social Work. The 50 Plus Foundation sought to exchange information about the 50+ generation’s participation in the voluntary sector and about intergenerational programs for encore careers. The delegation also sought to learn about the Age-Friendly Portland Initiative.
The four delegates met with Steve Maser and Ali Davis from SVP’s Encore Fellows Program, Encore Fellow Louis Weissberg and Chief Strategy Director Matt Bartolotti from Metropolitan Family Service, and Jay Bloom, the founding member of the Encore Fellows steering committee.
Korea has the fastest-aging population among the OECD countries. The 50+ generation, which accounts for 14.3 percent of the total population, is retiring rapidly. Due to an inflexible labor market and absence of a social security system, 78.6 percent of retirees have not prepared retirement savings. The Seoul 50 Plus Foundation supports the 50+ generation as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s broader policy plan. As a think-tank, the foundation conducts research on 50+ policies and projects; directly operates two 50+ Campuses (a platform for 50+generation’s counseling, education program, jobs, and communities), and supports 50+centers across Seoul.
The group discussed challenges and techniques for recruiting nonprofit work hosts and corporate sponsors, prospects for expanding their programs, and public policy issues related to aging in Korea and the U.S. This type of recruitment can be challenging in both Korea and America due to age discrimination in the workplace. The Encore Fellows Program provides one strategy aimed to combat the false perception that an aging workforce is a burden to society rather than a powerful resource for community change. The Encore Fellowship Program shifts this perspective by placing individuals later in life into non-profit organizations to work on capacity building projects. The results of these relationships speak for themselves; in a recent survey conducted by the Portland Encore Fellows Program, 80.5% of work hosts agreed that their Encore Fellow’s work increased their community impact. 89.2% said that their Fellow’s work made a difference by positively impacting their organization. These results reinforce Encore.org’s belief that an aging society is not a problem, but a solution!
The Korean delegation continued meetings in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia before returning home.