With computer screens growing wider and a fitness studio planning to offer 10-minute massages, MTU Aero Engines keeps an eye on the increasing age of their staff. “Some 25% of our personnel are 51 to 60 years old,” says Gudrun Bauer, manager of labor relations and human resource policy with the aircraft engine manufacturer.
A recent Allianz study shows that in 2010, for the first time, the number of people about to exit the workforce exceeds the number of young about to enter. “This could lead to lower growth rates and increased public expenditure on pensions, health care and long-term care,” warns European Commissioner for Employment, László Andor. MTU does not yet feel the change, “but we do factor in an overlapping period of two to 12 months for crucial senior employees and their successors,” comments Bauer.
Governments and companies will have to tackle unemployment by improving education and on-the-job training Michael Heise
Currently, the European Union is home to approximately 28.6 million people aged 15 to 20. However, 28.8 million people in the European Union are on the brink of retirement (aged 60 to 65), leaving a gap of 200,000. “As the baby boomer generation makes its transition into retirement, this gap is set to steadily widen, reaching 8.3 million by 2030,” predicts Professor Michael Heise, head of corporate development at Allianz, which conducted the 2010 study
Demographic turning point on the European Union labor market.
In light of rising unemployment, some may consider this good news. But a shortage of workers will not solve employment issues as “the educational and training background of many job seekers is not compatible with the labor market,” Heise says. This resonates with Andor. He prefers to make work more attractive for employees later in life as well as to design learning opportunities to their needs.Yet, parents need to have more children and “different forms of family leave, flexible working and adequate childcare are crucial.”
Governments should aim to keep more seniors in the labor market and to adjust working conditions to the needs of an aging population, says Heise – like in Sweden, where 63% of the 60-to-65-year-olds are still working. Demographics could even be an opportunity. “If we succeed in adapting to it better than our competitors, aging societies might be an advantage for us,” says MTU’s Gudrun Bauer.