Business

Career opportunity: Aging population creates demand for more senior living specialists

Gail Bierman (from left) talks with Sharon and Allan Hanson in the lobby at the Heron's Key retirement community in Gig Harbor in October. WSU in November announced a new online certification course for careers in senior living.
Gail Bierman (from left) talks with Sharon and Allan Hanson in the lobby at the Heron's Key retirement community in Gig Harbor in October. WSU in November announced a new online certification course for careers in senior living. Staff file, 2017

It’s not your imagination. There’s a growing number of retirement communities in our area, including the recently opened Heron’s Key in Gig Harbor.

And, someone has to manage them.

To that end, Washington State University has added a senior living certificate program to its online hospitality curriculum.

“The new senior living communities are not old folks homes anymore,” said Scott Eckstein, a clinical assistant professor of hospitality and senior living at WSU. “They are more like upscale hospitality organizations, and there aren’t enough managers to run the businesses.”

WSU’s School of Hospitality Business Management in the Carson College of Business will offer the program in seven modules in an on-demand format.

“Each module is different, but each should be able to be completed in less than one month,” Eckstein said.

The program is geared for those interested in getting a better understanding of the industry and in assessing how their skills might transfer or enhance their advancement in the industry.

“The technology and the lifestyle side of senior living will be some of the most entrepreneurial career spaces moving forward,” Eckstein said.

In Washington alone, “the portion of the population of 65 years and older is projected to grow much faster than the population as a whole,” he said.

Eckstein noted that about 1.6 million people over 60 live in the state, and about 200,000 of them need help with daily living. More than 90,000 are older than 70 and have some form of dementia.

Given these numbers, and the projections, industry leaders approached WSU with the certification program idea.

The program focuses on financial management, leadership, customer experience, industry history and philosophy, operations management, resident care and services, sales and marketing, risk management and regulatory compliance.

You can register online at the WSU Senior Living Management site at bit.ly/2zPya4k.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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