IBM to help firms tackle aging workforce

28 Sep 2005

At a time when workforces around the world are aging, IT giant IBM is to introduce a range of consulting and technology solutions to help firms cope. The company is developing a business model that will culminate in business transformation outsourcing services and on-demand workplace employee portals and services sciences.

In a move designed to capitalise on a very real issue facing businesses and governments over the next decade, IBM consultants, cultural anthropologists, researchers and social scientists will help organisations analyse and understand the impact of their own aging workforce and develop strategies to remain competitive in a globalised economy by adapting knowledge systems and business processes accordingly.

The company says the services will enable companies to better manage workforce skill sets, enhance mature-workers’ productivity and job opportunities and fill the gap retirees will leave by developing new business processes based on open standards, changing the nature of work for many groups as a result.

Over the next 20 years, the numbers of people in Ireland aged 65 years and over will increase by more than 70pc, according to recent Central Statistics Office projections.

At present there is one pensioner per five working people in the Irish economy. However, by 2025 it is estimated there will be one pensioner to every three workers.

IBM estimates that competition for skilled workers will be scarce in many global markets as more skilled workers retire and less enter the workforce.

As a result businesses in Europe, Asia and the Americas are examining the implications of how to manage and transfer employee knowledge, keeping their businesses productive and keeping mature workers in the workforce longer.

Among countries in the EU, the number of older workers (50-64 years) will grow by 25pc, while younger workers (20-29 years) will decrease by 20pc over the next two decades. And in the US, by 2010, the number of workers between ages 45-54 will grow by 21pc, the number of 55-64 year olds will expand by 52pc, and the number of 35-44 year olds will decline by 10pc.

As these workers become eligible for retirement, organisations risk losing major skill sets and their competitive advantage in the global economy. Exacerbating this issue, many organisations do not have a clear view of which skills they may be about to lose to retirement, IBM says.

“The aging population will be one of the major social and business issues of the 21st Century, and companies worldwide are starting to examine what this means in terms of skills, knowledge, and growth,” said Mary Sue Rogers, global leader, IBM Business Consulting Services Human Capital Management group.

“The scale of this age-driven change will alter the way work and knowledge are managed within companies moving forward. Many companies are taking this opportunity to evaluate their workforce skills globally, rethink internal knowledge management, optimise people-based processes, and examine a more globally integrated business model,” Rogers said.

By John Kennedy