Baby Boomer Exodus? We're Not Alone

The knowledge is about to leave the building. Baby Boomers are preparing to retire, and there's a significant gap in the skill sets of those who have spent a lifetime on the job, and the young'ns preparing to fill those shoes.

That's not only what we've been hearing repeatedly throughout the control and automation field, but frankly, within just about every professional environment we come in contact with. I belong to a couple editing groups on LinkedIn, and the conversation was brought up again there this morning, though couched in slightly different terms:

It began with the title: "When Boomers retire, who'll write, edit and be punctual?" It then cites a survey in which more than half of the respondents say the ability to write English (grammar, spelling) is a "basic skill" that older workers possess in significantly greater numbers than younger workers. But then this poster and her respondents are also among those who have been debating for five months straight (and still going strong) about whether I should write "more than half" or "over half" earlier in this paragraph.

But I digress. My point is that automation professionals are not alone in their concerns about the skill gap. According to the survey, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP, almost three-quarters of the HR professionals surveyed described their organization's loss of talent due to older workers retiring/leaving their organization as a "problem" or "potential problem." To make matters worse, only 5% of the organizations surveyed have implemented specific policies and management practices to prepare for this potential talent loss.

What do you think? Is this an issue in your organization? Is this survey legit, or is it a case--as one Time journalist put it--of AARP trying to increase its members' chances at increased opportunities in their retirement years? And, as one of the editors in my LinkedIn group commented, "The 'these kids today' meme goes back at least to Cicero."


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  • <p>How many of them can afford to retire? I've read elsewhere that very few of them have saved enough money to do so.</p>


  • <p>I think that's a valid point, and something I've heard mentioned this week at ABB Automation &amp; Power World, too. We might not see as much exodus as everyone talks about if the baby boomers can't afford to actually retire.</p> <p>But that's part of the argument about this AARP research, too. AARP members have a vested interest in boosting their own value so they can continue to work as consultants even if they do retire. Research to be taken with a grain of salt, to be sure.</p>


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