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Impact of the Aging Workforce on the Technology Industry

How Retiring Baby Boomers Affect the Job Market

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Overview

By the year 2010, a large percentage of the workforce will be retiring. This is causing what has been referred to as a "huge knowledge gap". As this generation approaches their retirement years, companies are starting to change the ways that they define work. This outflow of competent workers also opens up many new job opportunities, even during a time when the economy is not growing.

Changes in the Workplace

One of the interesting ways that the aging workforce is changing the way we work is by bringing a measure of flexibility to the office. Companies are finding that employees in this age group require different work conditions. They are less interested in working long hours, less defined by their careers, and much more interested in part time work. As a result of this trend, "quality of life" has become a key phrase. Telecommuting, job sharing, part time work and flex scheduling can be partially attributed to this generation's influence.

Alliance for an Experienced Workforce

Within the past few years, nearly two dozen industry associations have grouped together to create a new organization, the Alliance for an Experienced Workforce. This group works with employers to find creative ways to keep the retiring baby boomers working.

Some of the popular options include more training, to keep the skills of the older workers current and relevant to the changes in technology. Other suggestions include enticing older tech workers to stay in the workforce by offering options like job-sharing, flex-time, and part-time work.

Financial Considerations

The unfortunate reality for many baby boomers is that full retirement is not financially viable. As a result, many will need to continue working, at least part time, to support themselves.

Fewer Workers = More Job Openings

As more baby boomers retire, there are fewer replacement workers to take over. Even if the economy is in a downturn, overall, there will still be a need for specialized workers to take over these new openings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the next decade, one of highest in-demand fields will be computer services.

When Supply Does Not Equal Demand

In the labor market, and specifically in the technology job market, when there are jobs available and not enough workers, wages go up to attract and retain the necessary workers. This will mean that more people will then become interested in jobs in technology. Because companies need workers, and because it can take a long time for new workers to get the skills needed, tech companies will put pressure on the US government to increase the number of new visas approved in a given year. Most notably, the H-1B visa, since this is the one most impacted by the tech industry.

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