Gray Power: Effects of aging U.S. workforce

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Companies in many industries will experience an acute shortage of qualified workers in the next five to 10 years, if they aren&8217;t already.

With the retirement of a generation, we are losing key skills and critical knowledge as Baby Boomers transition out of the workforce.

More than nine in 10 (95 percent) of the employers in Alabama reported that it is &8220;very important&8221; for their organization to retain skilled employees.

But only one in ten (11 percent) reported they have taken actions to prepare for the retirement of the baby boom labor force.

What are the implications to your business?

There are several questions the employer needs to ask in order to offset a labor and skill shortage.

-Do you have a significant number of 50+ workers?

-Do you expect large numbers of employees to retire over the next 5-15 years?

-Will certain departments be hit harder than others?

-Does your company currently have a hard time recruiting and/or retaining employees?

-Is your industry facing a shortage of skilled workers?

-Are any of your company leaders planning to retire in the next 5-15 years?

-Do you expect individuals with special skills, experience, or contacts to retire soon?

-Does your company have a plan to retain critical information through exiting employees?

An AARP study found that 69 percent of retirees plan to work in some capacity.

We are finding that companies which once pushed older workers to exit, are asking these older workers to stay and even welcome them back in order to fill this void.

Age is an asset … experience is a benefit!

Eight of 10 Baby Boomers plan to work past traditional retirement age. According to human resource professionals, older workers are valued in the following ways:

-Add diversity of thought and approach

-Are loyal to their employer

-Take work seriously

-Are willing to work different schedules

-Have a strong work ethic

Multiple generations are working side-by-side, with very different work styles and needs.

This has been shown as a positive tool in the development at all levels.

Employers &045; your next immediate step should be to complete a full assessment and planning tool.

Contact AARP or myself for an assessment and planning tool for adapting to an aging workforce ( or

Dr. Marvin Copes is Education/Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama in Maylene. He can be reached by e-mail at