Now that the age of retirement has been raised and with the knowledge that the skills gap in specific areas continues to grow, the question whether or not employers are doing enough to ‘future-proof’ both their organisations and their older employees is more pressing than ever.
A recent poll of 2,000 people in employment – half of whom were more than 50 years of age – discovered that older workers are lacking the skills they need to survive in this age of technology and automation. Not only were these employees not receiving relevant training to ensure their skills were brought up-to-date, but the poll found that most felt that, unlike younger members of their organisation, their employer had not given them any insight into how their role would be impacted in this increasingly digital age.
Aptitude and Experience vs Skills
The question of whether employers should value older employees’ experience and aptitude more than their digital prowess is a tricky one, but what is clear is that companies do need to invest time and money into helping older workers remain relevant in the workplace. Clearly this is beneficial for the employee, but it is also a huge plus for the employer who would otherwise be left dealing with a shortage in talent as older people become obsolete only to be replaced with younger staff, who may have the digital know-how but not the on-the-job experience.
It is entirely possible that this will become an on-going issue and that younger staff will also reach a point where they too need to be retrained in certain areas, due to the increasingly likelihood of many workplaces becoming automated. This could involve retraining in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas, or developing skills such as coding, presentation giving or graphic design.
Filling the Skills Gap
Whether a company decides to immediately focus on developing digital skills in only their older staff or they make training more inclusive may depend on their skill shortages and their needs, but what is clear is that by improving communication so that all workers understand the impact of technology and automation on their jobs is crucial.
Creating a company culture where learning is at the fore will help encourage older staff to be digital adopters which can then be achieved through training that focuses on ‘reskilling’ the individual, thereby empowering them with the confidence they need to continue to be a valuable part of the organisation.