Retiring workforce won't hurt tech

Due to its "relative infancy", the technology sector will see more new professionals entering the industry than retirees leaving, says expert.
Written by Sol E. Solomon, Contributor

Having to replace retiring workers will become more common for companies in Asia as the number of retirees rises due to Asia's increasingly graying population, especially in the region's more developed locations.

However, given the relative infancy of the technology sector, the number of new workers entering the industry is higher compared to the number of retiring workers, said Lee Quane, Asia general manager of human resource organization ECA International.

The biggest impact of retirees leaving the IT industry will be the loss of experience, and a reduction in productivity due to this lack of knowledge and experience.
Lee Quane, ECA International

"Therefore, the impact of retiring workers on the overall number of employees in the industry will not be a major concern," Quane told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview.

Larry Morgan, Asia managing director at Macquarie Telecom, agreed: "Ours is a young company so retiring baby boomers is not an issue for us."

Also, Morgan said in an e-mail interview, recent activities in the stock markets worldwide have had an adverse effect on shares. With the value of stocks diminishing, matured workers who were looking to retire may now want to continue to be active in the workforce.

Mobilizing skills replacement
Today's globally mobile workforce could also help fill gaps when skilled workers such as the baby boomers--born between 1943 and 1960--leave the workforce.

Quane said: "The technology sector has seen mobilization of employees from key economies such as India and China, and this will likely continue with companies either mobilizing staff from their operations in these locations to other locations, or actively recruiting people from these locations."

However, this may give rise to a brain drain from such economies.

"The loss of skilled technology workers from developing economies will impact the development of such economies," Quane said. "Therefore, one thing many companies should do is ensure that, if they mobilize technology employees from developed economies, they also ensure these employees have the opportunity to return to their home countries and apply any knowledge and skills learnt elsewhere."

In terms of expertise, ECA's Quane noted, retirees have a huge amount of experience that fresh entrants into the industry do not possess.

"The biggest impact of retirees [leaving the IT industry] will therefore be the loss of experience and perhaps, a reduction in productivity due to this lack of knowledge and experience," he said.

While Morgan concurred with this assessment, he noted that the IT environment today is constantly changing, so the value of knowledge--including that of a retiree--"diminishes year over year".

"As such, older workers should constantly upgrade themselves, he advised. "If the older generation [does] not [stay] current, they'll fail."

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