American businesses will lose many of their most experienced, talented workers in the next few years.
The impending retirements of Baby Boomers will so powerfully re-shape the workforce, that the Society for Human Resource Management has launched a three-year Aging Workforce Initiative to identify how firms can retain valued older employees and attract new workers to fill skill gaps.
The SHRM Initiative just completed a survey of 1,900 members to identify what professions will be hit hardest by retirements.
Engineering jobs top the list, followed by high-skilled medical positions; IT and computer specialists; scientists, managers and executives; high-skilled technicians; skilled trade workers; sales representatives; lawyers, judges, and legal support workers; and community and social service workers.
“Our initial findings,” says Jen Schramm of SHRM, “suggest that industries whose workforces are aging the most rapidly are the ones that are most likely to be changing their recruiting and retention strategies.”
For example, new younger hires will be expected to learn organization-specific skills from older workers. The SHRM survey shows that 33 percent of firms will ask older workers to mentor new entrants, and 26 percent plan to initiate jo shadowing programs.
The retirement boom could be a boon for young workers who place a premium having an employer that provides training and a career path, notes Jene Kapela, a leadership consultant. “The moment they feel like they are not learning, they will look for new opportunities.”
Young jobseekers should use the interview to “explore what opportunities are provided for training and professional development,” Kapela suggests.
The SHRM study shows that companies will primarily rely on providing flexible work arrangements to keep valued older workers from retiring completely. Those flexibilities include work-at-home arrangements, reduced hours and part-year employment.