Table of Contents

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

Challenges and Opportunities

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou

The workforce is aging as people live longer and healthier lives, and mandatory retirement has become a relic of the past. Though workforces have always contained both younger and older employees the age range today has expanded, and the generational gap has become more distinct. This book advocates the need for talented employees of all ages as a way to prevent potential skill shortages and considers both the challenges and opportunities that these changes raise for individual organizations. The benefits they discuss include greater employee diversity with regards to knowledge, skills experience and perspectives, whilst challenges involve potential generational tensions, stereotypes and age biases. The book further places an emphasis on initiatives to create generation-friendly workplaces; these involve fostering lifelong learning, tackling age stereotypes and biases, employing reverse mentoring where younger employees mentor older employees, and offering older individuals career options including phased retirement, bridge employment and encore careers.

Chapter 14: Lifelong learning and the multigenerational workforce

John Field

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour

Extract

The proportion of older workers in the workforce is increasing, at a time when creativity, knowledge and skills are increasingly critical to organizational performance. In the United States of America, the over-55s constituted less than 12 percent of the labor force in 1992; 20 years later, almost 21 percent of US workers were over 55, rising to a predicted 25.5 percent by 2022. Moreover, very old workers are also of increasing importance, with the proportion of over-75s who work rising from 4.5 percent in 1992 to 7.6 percent in 2012; the prediction is that 10.5 percent of American over-75s will be working in 2022 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). At the same time, the proportion of young people in the workforce is declining: in the USA, 66.1 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds were working in 1992, but this had dropped to 54.9 percent by 2012, and the proportion was expected to continue falling (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). The main reason for this change is the extension of education, with the numbers staying on in full-time education growing steeply across much of the world. And, insofar as the United States is atypical, it is because its population – and its workforce – is considerably younger than that of the rest of the industrial world. Broadly, then, we can expect the workforce to become both older on average and more age-diverse.

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