Why baby boomers' L&D aspirations are being snubbed

by John Hilton15 Jan 2016
The recent Robert De Niro movie The Intern might have been on to something regarding the benefits of hiring older workers and their enthusiasm for learning and development.

New research has revealed that baby boomers are generally ambitious and want challenging and fulfilling jobs, as well as further L&D.

In particular, the results showed that HR is too caught up in retirement planning at the expense of assisting over-50s use their skills and expertise for the benefit of business.

There’s a misconception that older workers are remaining in senior roles and preventing the next generation of talent from coming through, according to Dr Carina Paine-Schofield, research fellow at Ashridge and co-author of the report.

This runs in contrast to the benefits of employing an experienced multi-generational workforces, according to research by Ashbridge Executive Education.

The survey involved responses by more than 2,000 workers in the UK over 50 years old, in addition to HR staff working in organisations which employ older workers.  

In particular, it found a significant gap between what baby boomers want from work and the way they are portrayed, managed and valued within the organisation.

However, this was not being accommodated by HR staff. In fact, only 1% of HR staff feel that older workers need career development. Their focus tended to be on L&D for younger employees with training for older workers restricted to retirement and financial planning.

 “Baby boomers are often in senior positions and are role models for others in the business,” Paine-Schofield was quoted as saying by cipd.co.uk.

“If they are not stimulated and engaged at work, the knock-on effect on the motivation levels of others could be enormous.

“Organisations also need to think about how the way they perceive and manage older workers impacts on recruitment and their brand image as an employer.”

Another recent report by British Gas has found that nearly three-quarters (72%) of workers over 50-years-old believe they are still capable of learning new skills and are keen to do so to contribute more at work.

Further, 11% said their employer believed they had “peaked” professionally, and 12% said a reluctance to invest in training for more experienced workers was holding them back in their organisation.

Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad UK said that when baby-boomers are nearing retirement there will be a huge skills shortage if lots of these senior leaders leave at the same time.

“This additional squeeze on skills could be catastrophic – especially considering the current war for talent,” he said.