Late last month, Uber announced a new plan to offer driving jobs for many older adults. This is in partnership with Life Reimagined, a subsidiary of AARP. They have not established a number of positions they plan to open, but press releases have made reference to extending opportunities for “millions of people [to] earn additional income as driver-partners on the Uber platform.”
What does this mean for aging adults? Does this move signal progress and jobs for a vulnerable and neglected population? Is this opportunistic PR for a company with a poor public image? Will America’s aging population embrace this offer, seeing in it a valuable and trusted role to help folks get around? Or will it reject the idea as demeaning and exploitative? Here’s a guide to help you navigate this new move.
Uber and Its Motives
Uber is a service which provides rides for its customers using a smartphone app which finds part-time drivers. Think of it as an informal taxi service. With this plan, registered semi-retired adults could sign up to make themselves available to give rides to people for a small fee.
As a company, Uber is trying to nicen up its image. The ride-sharing company was hit with many controversies in the last few years, making it and its much-touted “sharing economy” look a little dodgy and cutthroat. By partnering with a nonprofit AARP subsidiary, Uber’s may be hoping to make itself look generous and noble in the country’s eyes. Whether retired persons take this as complimentary or condescending remains to be seen.
AARP and Life Reimagined’s Role
Life Reimagined is a nonprofit subsidiary of AARP. Their goal in this is help get work for aging Americans. Uber is a modern, innovative company, and many of AARP’s members may be excited to participate in a new business model, as well as demonstrate their technological skills. Life Reimagined also grants the program credibility, ensuring that AARP has its eye on Uber and trusts them to function ethically.
Job Outlooks for the Elderly
For someone over the age of 50, getting a good job is difficult. Unemployment remains high, and many skilled workers are forced to take menial jobs making very little money. Employers often favor young, technically savvy workers, and ignore very good candidates simply due to their age.
This initiative by Uber and Life Reimagined could mean many, many jobs for people over 50, and could give technology-inclined older adults a chance to strut their stuff. This could provide a double advantage: income, and stereotype shattering. Both would be of significant benefit to AARP’s members.
The big question: will AARP members go for it? Will they see this as a great opportunity to get out, make some money, and show off their ability to adapt to the changing modern work world? Or will they scorn this move as taking advantage of the fact that it’s difficult to find good work? Uber provides a living wage, but a driver’s salary comes nowhere near the six figures many out-of-work AARP members are accustomed to. While the answers are uncertain, AARP’s presence is a good sign; their involvement will grant credibility for Uber, and will ensure its new employees have a powerful advocate on their side.