Challenges and Opportunities
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou
Chapter 14: Lifelong learning and the multigenerational workforce
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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