Who will monitor my systems when my watchmen retire?
Confronting the challenges that face the aging technology workforce
Why do we worry about automation taking jobs away when the largest part of the workforce is retiring in droves?
The workforce is increasingly digital and connected. Business expectations, needs and demands are evolving faster than ever before. At the same time, the workforce is aging, which poses a challenge to bridge the generational skills gap and sustain tribal knowledge.
Millennials and Generation X cannot fill this void Baby Boomers have created; the headcount is simply not there. Younger workers don’t want to go backwards by being trained on obsolete technology.
The solution? Replace the retiring workforce with technology. By getting rid of the human element in these old technologies, you eliminate human error and wait time, while grabbing the ability of machines to be proactive.
The generational shifts we are seeing for all business is especially relevant in the technology sector. There is still strong demand for older technologies, as they are pervasive in the business world. Yet, there is declining supply of resource, as folks are getting out of the workforce and the new workforce isn’t learning these skills. Further, companies are rethinking their technology strategies and moving to newer solutions, which perhaps the current workforce isn’t embracing. The new workforce brings more advanced technology skillsets but lacks the business experience and cultural fit from a work approach standpoint, to easily fill the void. The businesses that best bridge this gap will be highly successful.”
– Paul Demes, President, VT Business Applications Group
The tech community is feeling the effects especially hard, as aging users are retiring, taking tribal knowledge with them. Businesses using older technologies need to find replacements for skillsets that are rarely being taught anymore, specifically those related to managed application services.
Top challenges facing the aging tech workforce
Baby Boomer Brain Drain. When a boomer in a top senior tech position retires, there is often anxiety surrounding their departure. Many organizations end up feeling unprepared to fully cover for the loss. Such anxious departures happen 10,000 times a day, according to the Pew Research Center. The result of this Baby Boomer retirement surge? A massive “brain drain” that threatens to disrupt American business. Knowledge-intensive industries will experience brain drain most acutely, including education, engineering, federal government, finance, and oil and gas. Many companies are finding themselves unprepared for the challenge.
Sustaining and Securing Tribal Knowledge. It is critical that longtime employees transfer the knowledge they’ve gained from decades of experience to the employees who will be taking over their responsibilities. However, this knowledge is often tough to identify and even tougher to pass on.
Outdated Infrastructure. Older technology often requires skillsets to service and support that are no longer available. This means a smaller and smaller pool of talent, either internally, or through partners, to keep the old platforms operational. Infrastructure issues contribute to this mismatch of skills and unfilled positions. On top of this, as equipment ages, the likelihood of a failure becomes a near certainty, while the ability to fix it decreases in certainty.
Solutions to bridge the generational skills gap
There are several options to consider when bridging the generational skills gap within your organization.
Option 1: Implement a mentorship program to transfer tribal knowledge
More members of multiple generations are working together now than ever before. The boomers—who account for the largest generation and are aged between 52- and 70-years-old—have a lot of knowledge and skills not often found in younger workers.
One bit of good news reported by SHRM is that younger workers are eager to be mentored. Pairing up an experienced worker with a junior one helps retain the former while preparing the latter to step up.
However, as stated previously, tribal knowledge is often tough to identify and pass down. Add in legacy systems, and you’re going to have a lot of frustration on your hands. Organizations are finding they can compensate for loss of tribal knowledge by updating their systems or outsourcing managed services.
Option 2: Replace in-house technical operations support with a managed services solution
Managed applications skills are getting tougher to come by. Likewise, businesses often have IT staff that need to focus more on strategy and security than worry about monitoring.
In many cases, an organization may not have staff to perform an upgrade or the required skills for day-to-day management of your business applications. In this case, a managed services solution is a smart choice and has quickly become the preferred option.
Managed Services is a growing industry fueled by Business Applications Consulting and IT Infrastructure experts, like Venture Technologies, who have deep experience and skills developed to replace or augment your in-house technical operations support.
You shouldn’t have to worry about how your applications are working or how transactions are put through. Instead of logging in at your convenience to see if something is wrong, get alerted in order to be predictive and reactive.
Option 3: Move to a hosted environment.
If you no longer want to deal with your on-premise environment and everything that comes with integration, application innovation and custom development, consider moving to a hosted environment. With a hosted environment, systems and support operations are contracted, enabling organizations to focus on business issues.
We are seeing the hybrid model of cloud permeate the market as organizations make the transition to cloud in increments. Hybrid cloud allows you to run your infrastructure locally and get some features of the cloud in terms of scaling, provisioning and tenancy. Then you can relocate an application to the cloud when you’re ready.
Remember: your younger workers will not invest in their future on obsolete technologies.
The challenges of an aging workforce with critical skills gaps will be with us for years to come.
Venture Technologies can help your organization bridge the generational skills gap. Not only do we offer applications administration, premise and hosting solutions, but also functional and technical developer services. Learn more about our Managed Applications Services here.