A couple of unexpected players have entered the debate over the job-skills gap with a new poll suggesting that U.S. employers are finally ramping up training and employee benefits.

The reason? They hope to retain the expertise that resides in the baby boomer generation that’s racing toward retirement.

In releasing their new poll Monday, AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said that 72 percent of surveyed H.R. professionals identified the pending departure of retirees as a "problem" that their organizations hoped to fix.  HR managers said they are busy preparing for an onslaught of older and skilled departees.

To understand the scope of the dilemma, consider that a Pew Research Center report indicates that 10,000 baby boomers will turn age 65 every day for the next 20 years. Many are expected to retire or curtail their workload as they become old enough to qualify for government-paid health benefits under Medicare.

As a result, HR managers said they were busy:

  • increasing training and cross-training of younger workers (45 percent of respondents)
  • developing succession planning (38 percent)
  • hiring retired employees as consultants and temporary workers, so as not to lose their expertise (30 percent)
  • offering flexible work arrangements (27 percent)
  • designing part time positions to attract older workers (24 percent)

More than half the managers stated that their older workers had "stronger writing, grammar and spelling skills"  than younger workers and that they exhibited a stronger professionalism and work ethic.


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