Baby Boomers Widen Skills Gap; Young People Complain That Older People Are Not Making Way for Them in the Jobs Market. However, the Reality Is Not That There Are Too Many Older Workers -- but That Too Many Are about to Retire. Niki Chesworth Looks at the Demographic Time Bomb about to Hit the Workforce

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

Baby Boomers Widen Skills Gap; Young People Complain That Older People Are Not Making Way for Them in the Jobs Market. However, the Reality Is Not That There Are Too Many Older Workers -- but That Too Many Are about to Retire. Niki Chesworth Looks at the Demographic Time Bomb about to Hit the Workforce


Byline: Niki Chesworth

YOUNG people are full of age rage -- resentful towards older workers staying in their jobs well into their 60s. However, the reality is that more older workers are retiring than ever before. Rather than "taking up" jobs they are about to leave a vacuum of skilled talent as they start to take their pensions.

Many of these potential retirees are supervisors and managers and certainly have years of experience, so they do not hold the sort of jobs that the young unemployed can easily move into.

Francois Moscovici, who is an expert on retaining talent in business and issues affecting older workers, says: "It is like comparing apples and oranges as no 62-year-old will hoard the job of a 22-year-old -- they are at different stages of their careers.

"In fact, younger people need older workers. Jobs for younger people will come from economic growth which itself comes from businesses managed well by good leaders. So business actually needs to retain older workers to lead companies at a time of extreme talent scarcity. The problem is that we are facing a leadership cliff."

So who will fill the roles left by the record numbers retiring? Workers in their 30s and 40s will be the main beneficiaries, according to Moscovici, but the problem is that there are not enough of them.

The roots of this problem go back to the post-war years and the population bubble known as the baby boom years. This generation is now about to hit 65.

On average around 550,000 people reach pensionable age each year, but this number is rising rapidly and next year it is going to hit a peak of 807,000.

Not only could this put a massive drain on the public purse as record numbers claim their pensions, it will also leave a massive talent shortage.

Moscovici, who is a career coach and director of White Water Strategies, explains: "The problem is that the 30-plus age group, who are in their early leadership years, will need to meet this skills gap, but there are not enough of them.

"The population of this age group is declining and there are simply not enough to replace the number of older workers who are retiring.

"While more workers over 65 are staying in their jobs and the highest number of new jobs created over the last six months has been in the over-65s group, most are still opting to retire. After all, this is a generation that still has generous pensions on the whole.

"Even if they have suffered a pensions shortfall, they will then often work part-time to supplement their income rather than remaining in their existing role. The over-65s are usually very good value, are happy to take less money than pre-retirement and work fewer hours and they are usually self-managing so they do not require close supervision.

"However, even with these older workers remaining in the workforce, there will still be a huge shortfall in the numbers able to take over the supervisory and management roles of those opting to retire or retire part-time. …

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Baby Boomers Widen Skills Gap; Young People Complain That Older People Are Not Making Way for Them in the Jobs Market. However, the Reality Is Not That There Are Too Many Older Workers -- but That Too Many Are about to Retire. Niki Chesworth Looks at the Demographic Time Bomb about to Hit the Workforce
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