Baby boomers left out in the cold when it comes to career development

New research into the multigenerational workforce shows that training and development is too focused on millennials – to the detriment of older workers.

An online survey, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of the City & Guilds Group, sought to ascertain the views of workers around the perceptions of older and younger workers within the workplace. The survey ran from 10 January 2017 - 12 January 2017 and draws on the responses from a sample of 505 workers aged 18-30 and 509 workers aged 51+ in the United Kingdom. 

With three fifths (61%) of older workers concerned that the Government’s policies are too focused on supporting young people into work compared to older workers, employers should focus on developing their whole workforce, the City & Guilds Group urged today.

The study of 1,000 18-30 year-old and over-51 year-old British workers revealed more than a third (35%) of older workers think that their employer puts more effort into employing and developing young people than on retaining or retraining older workers; and more than two fifths (41%) think their organisation is more focused on helping younger workers, raising concerns that organisations are not doing enough to support all generations at work, and prepare for the UK’s ageing workforce.

Read the Generations At Work 2017 Research now

In last week’s Budget, the Chancellor announced £40m investment in pilots to test different approaches to lifelong learning, as well as £5m to promote ‘returnships’ and help people back into employment after a career break – an encouraging step, given the research revealed that nearly three fifths (58%) of older workers feel that not enough is being invested into training and development. And yet while nearly four fifths (78%) say they are committed to developing their skills for the future, a third (32%) do not think there are opportunities for them to develop new skills in their current role.

Concerns were also raised over career progression. Only a third (34%) of older workers regularly discuss career progression with a manager, compared with nearly double the number of younger workers (60%). Despite this, more than eight in ten (81%) of older workers believe they have the skills needed for the jobs of the future.

With Britain experiencing skills gaps, an ageing population and an increasing retirement age, the City & Guilds Group is calling on employers to prioritise supporting all age groups in the workplace. Nearly two thirds (63%) of each cohort surveyed wanted training on how to work with different generations, showing clear appetite for businesses to plan for the office environment of the future.

The research also revealed:

  • 30% of older workers feel they have been overlooked for key tasks due to their age
  • Less than one in ten older (9%) workers prioritise career progression, compared to a third (33%) of younger workers
  • More than eight in ten (88%) of older workers think training and development helps boost productivity and improves team morale (83%)
  • Seven in ten older workers (70%) think it is more challenging to enter the workforce now than 40 years ago

Last year, research by Business in the Community (BITC) revealed that by 2022, there will be 12.5 million vacancies created by people leaving the workforce and two million new vacancies. But, because of the declining youth population, there will only be 7 million young people to fill them – leaving Britain with a 7.5 million skills gap.

Commenting on the research, Chris Jones, Chief Executive of the City & Guilds Group said: ‘As people are working longer, the multigenerational workforce is becoming commonplace. Employers will need to think carefully not just about their recruitment strategies, but how they develop and engage their whole workforce, regardless of age. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

‘Whilst the Government’s policies around developing young people and preparing them for work are important, we cannot ignore the other generations who may also need help entering or progressing in the workplace. The funding announced last week for pilot studies to test different approaches to lifelong learning represents a promising starting point, but there is more we can do. Every employee can be an asset, so it’s vital that organisations explore different methods for attracting and developing talent to support all employees – and ultimately business growth.’

Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director, Business in the Community said: ‘With an ageing population, business will need to make the most of their older workers, and commit to action to bring generations at work together. In our role as Government Business Champion for Older Workers, Business in the Community has launched a target for one more million older people in work by 2022. During this transitional period, it is vital that businesses have open conversations in workplaces about the wealth of life experience, knowledge and expertise that can be shared across generations. From making sure that young employees have effective inductions that cover intergenerational working, to providing line managers with age specific training, there are a number of practical changes employers can make to help people adapt to this new way of working.’

Read the full report now.

New research: Generations At Work