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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Engaging an Aging Workforce

By 2050, the world population will be over nine billion. Despite this growth and the flooded employment market, employers worldwide report difficulty in filling positions. Many are facing an HR paradox: How to find the right people at the right time, with the right skills in the right place, and fill the gap in the midst of plenty?

On a global scale, birth rates are declining and populations are aging. This means that there is a smaller pool of working-age talent from which to draw. The world average life expectancy was around 52.5 years in 1960. But today it is 68.9 years of age –31% higher in just 40 years. The percentage of individuals over age 65 who are in the labor force jumped about 40% from 1998 to 2008 … and this trend is set to continue.

Combined with these demographic challenges is a broader, more strategic challenge of the global talent mismatch. According to Manpower’s Annual Talent Shortage Survey, 34% of employers worldwide experience difficulty filling needed positions. So it’s not just about having the workers available amidst a shrinking pool of talent. It’s also about having the right people with the right skills needed to drive businesses forward.

Experienced workers will make up a larger percentage of the workforce and employers will need to find ways to keep them engaged. They will need to train managers to manage a multigenerational workforce that includes the young and the old. The skills mismatch is set to accelerate, creating an imbalance between supply and demand.

On June 28, I will be presenting on this topic at the SHRM 2011 Annual Conference and Exposition. I hope to see you at SHRM.

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