Home » Embracing the Silver Workforce: Navigating the Global Shift Toward Older Employees

Embracing the Silver Workforce: Navigating the Global Shift Toward Older Employees

Experts advocate reskilling and policy reforms to harness the potential of an aging workforce.

by Adenike Adeodun

The global workforce is getting older, and fewer young people are entering the job market. This means that organizations need to find ways to better include older workers. It’s estimated that around 150 million jobs will go to people over 55 in the next ten years. Companies will have to change their employment strategies to adapt to this older workforce and take advantage of their unique skills.

The world’s population is getting older, with life expectancy now over 70 in many countries. In 2020, there were more people aged 60 or over than children under five for the first time ever. This change is due to improvements in healthcare, nutrition, and technology like AI, which have all improved people’s quality of life and how long they live.

In the past, many people retired early, but this is changing in countries like the United Kingdom. They have been gradually raising the retirement age to make it equal for men and women and to make people work for longer. In Japan, the retirement age was recently raised from 60 to 61, and there are plans to raise it further. Many companies in Japan are hiring older workers again on new contracts, sometimes with lower pay. This shows that they are taking a careful approach to managing their older workforce.

In Nigeria, the debate over increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 years and extending service from 35 to 40 years is gaining traction among public service workers. Dr. Tommy Okon, President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, argues that such changes are crucial for maintaining an effective and experienced civil service. He believes that ongoing negotiations will soon yield positive outcomes in favor of these adjustments.

Despite these shifts, many organizations still lack dedicated programs to integrate older workers fully into their systems. The need for such programs was highlighted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where labor experts emphasized the growing necessity for workplaces to attract and retain older employees as they are likely to work beyond traditional retirement ages due to economic needs and increased life expectancy.

The World Health Organization reports that the proportion of the global population over 60 will nearly double by 2050. To address this, experts like Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights at the European Commission, advocate for continuous skill development throughout one’s life to ensure that older workers can remain productive for longer periods.

The discussion at the forum also pointed to the broader implications of an aging workforce, such as the need for industries to adapt to technological advancements and maintain competitiveness in tight labor markets. Companies are encouraged to create healthier workplaces and consider phased retirement options to allow older workers to gradually transition out of full-time roles while mentoring younger generations.

In Nigeria, Olusegun Mojeed, President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management, highlighted the invaluable experience that older workers bring, which cannot be easily replicated by younger employees. He advocated for workplace flexibility, continuous learning, and phased retirement options to foster a thriving intergenerational workplace.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasized that no one is too old to learn new skills, especially with technological advancements making digital tools more accessible. He pointed out that the economic climate often dictates whether older workers are retained or encouraged to retire early to make way for younger employees.

To empower older workers effectively, HR experts recommend understanding what motivates them, reskilling them to meet future needs, and respecting their contributions by allowing them to leverage their strengths. This approach not only benefits older workers but also enhances organizational capacity to navigate the challenges of a rapidly changing economic landscape.

As the global workforce ages, there is a critical need for organizations to adapt by integrating older workers more effectively. This involves not only extending their careers through policy changes and workplace adaptations but also valuing the wealth of experience they offer. The shifting demographic landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for global labor markets, necessitating a strategic approach to workforce management that embraces the benefits of a diverse age range.

Source: The Guardian

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