Get Ready for the New Workforce

December 28th, 2012 / No Comments »

By Ron Ashkenas  

I recently heard a stunning statistic: For the next 19 years, 10,000 people per day will turn 65 years old, and (presumably) retire shortly thereafter. While this graying of the Boomer generation certainly has implications for health care and social policy (and for me personally, as one of those eventual retirees), it may have even more significance for the nature of the workforce and the job of the manager.

First, there will be a shortage of workers for key jobs. This may sound hard to believe at a time when U.S. unemployment hovers around 8% and parts of Europe have 25% of their people out of work. Yet as millions of boomers leave the workforce, there are far fewer younger people to replace them. In the trucking industry alone, for example, it’s estimated that there will be a shortage of over 100,000 drivers in just a few years. Moreover, the replacements will have far less experience and know-how, and will need considerable training to get up-to-speed. This will lead to significant gaps in areas such as engineering, petrol-chemicals, utilities, defense manufacturing, education, healthcare, and air traffic control.