In my last blog post, Bye-Bye Boomer, I highlighted the concerns organizations have around the loss of the Boomer brain trust and that knowledge management systems are not adequately transferring their knowledge to the next generation of workers. A recent study by the Conference Board of New York argues that Generation X (Millenials) can’t be counted on to take up where Boomers leave off. A Conference Board summary of the study says:

As the Baby Boom generation of corporate leaders and experts approaches retirement, businesses in the U.S., Canada, and many European nations face the loss of experience and knowledge on an unprecedented scale," says Diane Piktialis, Mature Workforce Program Leader at The Conference Board and co-author of the report with Kent Greenes, Program Director, Learning & Knowledge Management Council, The Conference Board. "Younger workers can't be counted on to fill the void, as they lack the experience that builds deep expertise. They also tend to change jobs frequently, taking their technological savvy and any knowledge they've gained with them…The result can be a significant drain of business wisdom that decreases innovation, lowers growth capacity, and reduces efficiency in the organization.

I see this locally. The American auto industry is at enormous risk of having the bodies but not the talent it needs to compete on the global stage. Because of the pressure to downsize, buyouts at Ford, GM, and Chrysler are leaving them without the experience and brainpower they need to succeed. This talent gap will be addressed in part through a highly educated and innovative younger workforce and, as has happened in the past, by hiring back some of the best people in part-time and temporary positions. But I doubt that this will be sufficient to fill the knowledge void in these organizations.

What is your organization doing to address this problem?

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