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FDs predict skills gap shortage

UK finance directors are braced for a significant skills gap when baby boomers retire over the next two to five years, which they believe will have a negative impact on their business, research has found.

Research by recruiters Robert Half UK has found that 74% of finance directors are concerned that the skills gap resulting from widespread retirement of baby boomers will have a negative impact on their organisation over the next two years.

Finance directors in small businesses looking further ahead are the most concerned about losing their experienced baby boomers, with 84% predicting that the departure of older professionals over the next five years will have a negative impact on their business. This compares to 77% for medium businesses and 69% for larger businesses, where the impact of key leavers can be more easily accommodated.

Not only will employers need to consider the impact of the skills shortage that this mass-departure will create, but they will also have to accommodate different demands and expectations from younger Generation X and Y workers coming to replace them, Robert Half said.

Companies are already preparing for the loss of older workers by increasing training and development programmes (45%), enhancing benefit programmes to retain baby boomers (32%), hiring mid-level talent to develop a skills pipeline (27%), increasing mentoring programmes and knowledge transfer (25%), hiring senior-level talent to replace retiring employees (22%) and offering flexible and/or part-time work arrangements to attract and retain baby boomers (16%). Only one-in-10 (10%) finance directors said that they did not foresee a potential skills gap.

Phil Sheridan, UK managing director of Robert Half, commented: “With employers challenged in finding the skills they need to grow their businesses, establishing a succession plan with a robust attraction and retention strategy will be critical to succeed in today’s economy. In some cases, offering project or interim contracts to employees nearing retirement will open up positions for aspiring managers to move up the career ladder, while still operating under the guidance of a mentor.”

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