Where Does The Greying Of The Workforce Lead?

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Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age ~Victor Hugo.

The ageist bias against seniors is rife, but how long can the workforce ignore them as part of a productive economy?

  • Shifting demographics and workforce movements point to resource shortages which may give seniors more bargaining power in time to come.

Following are welcome facts for those seeking to be “still in demand after 65”, albeit worrisome for countries / organizations, but:

  • 31% of employers worldwide have a challenge filling positions due to a shortage of experienced talent in their markets.
  • USA: One in 7.5 is 65 or older. Credible data is unavailable for the exit and entry numbers of the workforce, but using other countries as a reference, it should be almost 1 for 1.
  • Canada: One in 7 is a senior citizen. For every worker that exits, just over 1 enters.
  • Europe: One in 5.9 is a senior citizen. By 2030 it will be 1 in 4. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • Japan: One in 4.4 is a senior citizen. More people are exiting than entering the workforce.
  • By 2020 in China, Russia, Canada and South Korea more people will reach retirement age than entering the workforce.

Shifting Demographics

  • The under-65 skilled workforce in the USA / rest of the Western world is shrinking.
  • Recruitment may thus soon be from both an aging and dwindling workforce.
  • Labor demographics are shifting and will present local/global employers with resourcing challenges – which will eventually favor both seniors and countries with a younger workforce.
  • The global workforce will be augmented from retirees and women in countries where woman traditionally do not enter the workforce.

Effects of Workforce Movements

  • The available global resource pool has become more mobile. This often leads to xenophobic backlashes in countries where an influx of foreigners is seen as taking jobs away from locals.
  • Loyalty in terms of remaining with a company for many years is largely a concept of the past – for both parties.
  • In some countries the replacement is almost 1 for 1, except that those who exit has more than 40 year of experience.
  • This will create unparalleled competition/polarization between young and old, skilled and semi-/non-skilled, knowledge/non-knowledge workers, possibly amongst different industries and countries.
  • Countries/companies must develop new policies and strategies to maintain/re-engage skilled workers who are leaving the workforce due to reaching retirement age, and put in place knowledge/skills transfer policies and programs.

Enter Generation U

Generation Unretired is the newest – if not youngest – segment of the workforce. They:

  • Represent 8 out of 10 baby boomers who will work past retirement age or return to work after retirement.
  • Have significant depths of knowledge, experience and interpersonal skills, developed over 40+ years.
  • Have a strong work ethic – comparable to, if not better than other “generations”.
  • Can overcome the technology learning curve in certain industries through training.
  • “Sees the big picture and have strategic thinking experience” or a zest for detail (retired accountants).

In summary Gen U is the critical mass that has reshaped all facets of life as they moved through it and will continue to do so.