Generation X and the Baby Boomers: why businesses must take control of this talent base before it’s too late

Staff retention and training are two of the greatest considerations within business today. Profit and growth, yes, are vital… but how can these be achieved without the foundation of a long-standing team? High staff turnover is associated with a dip in profitability, short term thinking, and most importantly, slowly chips away at your employer brand. If your skilled staff don’t want to stay, your customers will take notice.

Worse, this turnover deprives your business of its key asset in the fight against the skills shortage… older, more experienced staff – the ones capable of training younger workers on how the job can be done best.

In today’s workplace, staff retention is a more relied upon trait than ever before. As the skills shortage well and truly bites, it must fall to the most experienced employees – Generation X and Baby Boomer talent – to bring the new entries to the market up to speed.

With age comes experience: why businesses aren’t utilising talent appropriately

Baby Boomers, the generation born between the mid 1940s and mid 1960s, once made up the majority of the workforce. Today, however, they are fast approaching retirement. Generation X, those employees born between the late 1960s and early 1970s, are now fully established within their career paths.

At one point, the combination of a theory-based education and on-the-job training meant that employers could rest easy – knowing that the skills of their staff would develop along with their careers… often with the guiding hand of more experienced workers at the helm.

Today, however, we see the rise of Millennials (born between 1982 and 2002) and Generation Z (those born after 1997). The difference comes from the industry that is being operated in.

Whilst older generations have grown and developed within a very specific framework, new entries to the market are required to learn from scratch… but with the Baby Boomer generation fast approaching retirement, who is left to train them?

Education – the business case for experience-led training programmes

Taking control of this talent base, therefore, is vital. Businesses need to take a greater stake in the education of their own staff before the specialists capable of giving this training move on in their careers.

The problem, in short, comes down to the education that’s being received. Within university degrees, the structure and make-up of the course is more often than not focussed around the theory behind individual disciplines. This is not limited to IT, tech or coding – it extends towards journalism, creative industries and even STEM subjects. This is due to two simple problems – a lack of funding, and a lack of opportunity for students to actively integrate within existing companies.

Businesses now focus on new entries to the market – Millennials and Generation Y – but have overlooked the remainder of the Baby Boomers and Generation X who are still very much a part of the workforce.

With universities not producing ready-to-work talent, it’s clear that organisations have to take a greater role in developing their own staff – older generations of workers will be key in this undertaking, passing on the right skills and experience needed before they retire.

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