Many executives today worry that skill shortages threaten their organization’s ability to grow and innovate. A recent survey I designed for one manufacturing sector found that almost 60% of managers responding thought skill shortages were already hurting their firm’s productivity and quality. These numbers have been supported in other studies.
But, despite a seriously aging population in the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world, only 4% of this same group saw the aging workforce as an immediate threat to performance. Most expect the effects of aging Boomers to come 3-5 years (37%) or in 5-10 years (37%) out. About 20% don’t see the aging workforce as a concern at all.
This survey shows leaders don’t necessarily see a connection between the aging workforce and the negative impacts of skill shortages. Instead, most executives today focus on their immediate source of pain—the difficulty of finding and retaining young skilled talent for specific jobs, no matter how strategic. I’ve interviewed healthcare CEOs, for example, who seemed most concerned with filling hospital housekeeping jobs. This disconnect between an aging workforce and skill shortages is consistent with my previous research.