There is no question that there’s a global skills shortage – not just among the developed countries, but the developing ones, too, like South Africa – with no less than 87% of companies either already experiencing this, or expecting to do so within the next few years, according to McKinsey.
And this skills shortage is impacting businesses in a major way.
For example, the digital skills gap alone is expected to cost 14 countries in the G20 some $11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth says this report.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the problem, 80% of CEOs are concerned with the availability of digital skills in their organisations, and a PwC CEOs Survey from as long ago as 2017 already showed the number one priority for CEOs being availability of talent.
So, even if you’re not currently experiencing a skills shortage in your business, it absolutely needs to be on your Risk Register and discussed at Board meetings, and it must form a part of your overall succession planning at all levels.
The good news, though, is there is a solution ready and waiting, and it’s a solution that’s fast gaining momentum around the world, too – Unretirement.
In fact, already in 2017 some 32% of people in the US aged 65-69 were in work, while the rate in the UK has more than doubled in the past 25 years.
And while the pandemic initially saw this age group leave employment more quickly than others, they have returned even more strongly – perhaps recognising that they’re not ready for retirement yet.
So, what are the advantages to a business of using Unretirees?
The first, and most obvious, one is their combination of knowledge, experience and skills – particularly in these days of skills shortages. With 40-50 years of work experience, they’ve “seen it all” including recessions, high inflation, instability globally, shortages, and so on. Many of today’s business leaders have not experienced all of these, and almost none of the younger workers have. So, when the business is looking at how to cope with these conditions, the older workers can play an important role.
Furthermore, they are generally only too happy to pass on their knowledge and skills to others. There are acknowledged problems with the education system in many countries today: essentially, people are leaving schools with poor numeracy and literacy skills, and are also being prepared for jobs that no longer exist because curricula have not been updated, as this report indicates. Unretirees can play an important role in developing the skills of these people as they enter your workforce as interns, apprentices or in some other function.
In many ways, Unretirees make for ideal employees – they’re more reliable, punctual and loyal than young workers, with a strong work ethic and less distractions: in fact, they really want to work and enjoy doing so. They also typically take less time off, whether for illness or other reasons, and their experience makes them better at handling problems, and at representing your company.
Of course, from a product development perspective, they can play a very useful role, too. The disposable income of the ‘baby boomer’ generation remains extremely high, and they understand the products and services that appeal. They’re also less likely to be attracted by the ‘shiny new object’ syndrome as they seen it all before in various guises.
And, in the new world of flexible work, they’re also very willing to take on roles that demand less hours if that’s what’s needed, so can save the business money in this way.
From a wider economic standpoint, Unretirees benefit the economy, too: helping broaden the tax base, reducing draws on social security and pension systems, increasing consumption purchases, and lowering medical costs, amongst other benefits.
Older workers who are still employed are more active and healthier, with research showing that the risk for dementia, for example, is cut by 3.2% for every year they spend continuing to work. They also live longer, as this study shows, while early retirement may be a risk factor for dying earlier. And the concern that they’re taking jobs from younger workers is a myth; those skills are in demand and are needed, and the more people that work, the stronger the economy.
So, when looking at the risks of skills shortages, at succession planning and just generally at your business, consider this pool of tried and tested talent. Your business and your community will be the stronger for it.
I work with owner-led businesses to enhance their growth, profitability and business value.
If you’d like to have a conversation about your business objectives and concerns, book a free 30-minute call with me here. I’d be delighted to talk with you.
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