At the GTC West seminar "The Changing Workforce: Urgent Challenges and Strategies," Ed Vitalos, associate partner for IBM Business Consulting Services, noted what he called a huge increase in the 55 and older age range in the work force during the next 10 to 15 years. In 1980, about 14 percent of the work force was age 55 and older, and by 2010, Vitalos said there will be about 20 percent of persons age 55 or older in the work force.
This means a projected shortage of about 10 million IT workers by the end of the decade, Vitalos said.
"By 2010, we will have gone from the surplus situation of employees to a work force situation of scarcity, primarily in highly skilled, technical areas," he said. "From that perspective, the aging demographic is an issue."
Vitalos continued by saying there is an underlying strategic choice in the situation -- stay as is, or change. And the turnover is an opportunity for fundamental change.
Strategic tips and useful ideas to plan for and cope with the changing work force were broken down into two steps. First was formulating an effective response and determining attrition significance for the specific organization, which included determining the context of future operations, the loss projection, an impact assessment, and understanding the aging work force in a "value" context.
Step two was formulating an effective response, potential elements of which include successful aging work force management, talent management, work force management, analytics, industry-specific solutions, technology solutions, assistive technology, learning and development, and succession management.
"There's no silver bullet," Vitalos said. "You need to use a holistic approach if you want to succeed, and there are finite windows of opportunity."