Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Manpower Inc. CEO on The Future Of The Global Workplace

Jeffrey A. Joerres, the president and CEO of Manpower, in an interview with The McKinsey Quarterly, says of the aging population that "[d]emographic issues are hard to solve because they require a partnership between government, which is only in office for a period of time, and business, which has its own quarterly issues to deal with." While he notes that France's notion of retraining—having companies set aside money for a training fund—is very proactive, retraining efforts in the United Kingdom and in Australia-—countries that have an aging problem--are further away. In addition, he notes that a majority of older workers are interested in part-time jobs—-not full-time temporary jobs: "People want to work Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, not for four months on a project. Getting individuals to think beyond part-time work and to take more responsibility for improving their skills will be absolutely key."
Governments can help with tax schemes, training, payroll subsidies—but, ultimately, I'm afraid there will have to be pain associated with this issue before it becomes institutionalized. Without pain, it's just too easy to keep putting it off for somebody else to solve. But it's not just demographics—you can't forget the pure talent gaps. You're going to find 40-year-olds in the same position as someone who's 60, because the 40-year-old simply lacks the skills the company needs. People can't turn on a dime and change a skill set. You can't be a machinist one day and a nurse the next when you're 60. So the demographic crunch is coming, and it will be exacerbated by the talent crunch.
Source: "The future of the global workplace: An interview with the CEO of Manpower" McKinsey Quarterly (November 2005) Free, but registration required

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