Skills and labor shortages - part ll

Josef Wegenberger

In our article "Shortage of skilled workers" we described this shortage and its challenges. In Part II, we look at the great potential of knowledge and experience of the 50 ++ / 60++ generation.

The 50++ / 60++ generation

When we talk about older employees, images of people longing for retirement may come up. Companies often still see too little of the potential of people 50+ and 60+. They are not a silent reserve, but have built up competencies in their professional lives, through learning, trial and error, etc., and have gained experience that represents a tremendous [knowledge] capital.

Even if the address to 50+ employees is often: "How long do you have [to retire]?" "How long do you have to [work]", "When will you make it [to retirement]? ... this shows a false picture. Studies show that 30-40% would like to continue working in retirement or look for some kind of hobbies [due to a lack of professional alternatives]. It is important to leverage this knowledge and this wealth of experience and to create an environment in which this knowledge can be passed on or used for the company.

But practice often looks quite different - 3 real-life examples from the field*:

Case study 1: Anton S. is 62 years old and has been a loyal, competent and still highly motivated employee of a large company in the semi-public sector for 42 years. While many of his colleagues have been enjoying their pensions for years, he has been providing his services with commitment and a high degree of customer orientation. Nevertheless, he is being sent into retirement at the end of the year, although he should be happy to continue working for a few more years. At the same time, this company is desperately looking for employees. [?]

Case study 2: Monika S. has also been working in public administration for more than 40 years; she performs her assigned tasks dutifully, correctly and competently - nevertheless, she will be formally pushed into retirement at the beginning of 2023. [?]

Case study 3: Karl F. Car mechanic "with heart and soul", in the same company [private sector] for 35 years. At the age of 59, he is laid off "overnight," although skilled workers are needed in many areas; for him, a world collapses. [?]

These real-life examples show that awareness of the potential that is being lost here is still underdeveloped in many cases and we still have a lot of work to do in this regard.

Of course, an important point here is to think about how the framework conditions for work can be changed to make optimal use of people of all ages. At the same time, it is important to invest in re-skilling and upskilling and to further develop the competencies of employees at all levels.


* The names have been changed by us and the companies/organizations have been presented neutrally

Image source