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Retiring Baby Boomers to deepen skills shortages in NZ

02 Jul 2019
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As New Zealand’s Baby Boomer generation gradually retires from the workforce, their exit poses a knowledge and experience vacuum that is expected to contribute significantly to skills shortages across the country. An independent survey of 300 hiring managers in New Zealand shows 86% are concerned the Baby Boomer departure will impact available skillsets in their organisation, while 72% forecast it will be more challenging to find qualified professionals in the coming five years.

New Zealand’s population is steadily ageing, with the number of people aged 65 and over expected to increase by 77% to over 1.2 million by 2036. As the population ages, so too will the workforce, with people over the age of 65 expected to make up 9.6% of the workforce by 2036.

With Baby Boomers drawing closer to retirement, there will be a major structural shift to New Zealand’s workforce with an exodus of experienced employees alongside the creation of numerous job vacancies. It’s no surprise then that there is consensus across New Zealand workplaces about the impact of departing Baby Boomers, and the need to transfer their unique skills and knowledge to younger generations.

What is being done to mitigate the Baby Boomer departure in New Zealand?

To prepare, New Zealand managers are actively taking measures to ensure knowledge held by the Baby Boomer generation doesn’t get lost when they retire. Almost six in 10 (58%) are developing teams of different generations, 45% are organising training sessions with all employees, 42% are setting up mentoring/coaching programs, 39% are implementing online platforms for employees to input their experience, and 24% are tracking the success of former projects through a specialised system.

Robert Half New Zealand GM Megan Alexander says, “Over the next few years, we will continue to see Baby Boomers leave the workforce taking their valuable skills and experiences with them. For organisations to be prepared to counter the potentially negative effects of their most experienced employees leaving the organisation, companies should commence the task of bridging the talent gap by implementing knowledge-sharing initiatives across the generations.”

“By identifying the skills most at risk of being lost with departing Baby Boomers, companies can develop specialised training and mentoring programs to upskill less experienced generations in the workforce. It is never too early for businesses to start thinking about their succession plans to bolster the company’s knowledge base and prepare their successors.”