Three quarters of UK companies predict skills shortage

UK employers are anticipating a significant skills gap when baby boomers retire over the next two to five years and are already taking steps to mitigate the risk. 

New research from leading recruitment specialist Robert Half UK reveals that 74 per cent of finance directors are concerned that the skills gap resulting from widespread retirement of baby boomers will have a negative impact on their organisation over the next two years.  An even higher proportion (77 per cent) say that the departure of older workers will have a negative impact over the next five years.

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Phil Sheridan, UK Managing Director of Robert Half, commented: “Employers are facing a profound shift as baby boomers look to exit the workforce, compounding the existing skills gap. With employers challenged in finding the skills they need to grow their businesses, establishing a succession plan with a robust attraction and retention strategy will be critical to succeed in today’s economy.

“In some cases, offering project or interim contracts to employees nearing retirement will open up positions for aspiring managers to move up the career ladder, while still operating under the guidance of a mentor. However, it is important to recognise that younger generation X and Y employees will expect different social contracts with their employers and that this should form the second phase of any baby boomer transition planning.”

Born after the-Second World War and before 1965, baby boomers are associated with the soaring post-war birthrate and the last generation to experience and take advantage of regular improvements in the socio-economic landscape. They also represent a bulge in the workforce that will soon be at retirement age.

Not only will employers need to consider the impact of the skills shortage that this mass-departure will create, but they will also have to accommodate different demands and expectations from younger Generation X and Y workers coming to replace them.

Almost half (45 per cent) of finance directors are increasing training and professional development programmes to mitigate the risk, while 32 per cent are enhancing benefit programmes to retain baby boomers. Other methods include increasing mentoring programmes and knowledge transfer, hiring senior-level talent to replace retiring employees and offering flexible and/or part-time work arrangements to attract and retain baby boomers.

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