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Fulfilling older workers’ teaching ambitions could boost retention

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More over-50s are leaving the workforce than at any time since records began in 1992, according to the latest ONS statistics. New research, however, suggests that helping older employees find purpose in passing on their knowledge may help halt this brain drain.

Results from a Department for Education survey, released 17 March, showed that over a third of all employees (34%) would like to pass on their skills to others in their field of work.

More than a quarter (29%) said they want to help the next generation.


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Sarah Greenberg, director of clinical design and partnerships at coaching company BetterUp, told HR magazine that the UK can’t afford to lose the expertise of older workers.

She said: “Companies need a diverse set of skills, personalities and experience levels in order to grow and innovate.

“A loss of older workers means a loss of leaders, deeply networked relationships and tacit knowledge. They are fundamental to creating a culture of continuous skill sharing.”

Older workers, she explained, have what is called crystallised intelligence – years of learning and experience.

She said: “Crystallised intelligence is the wisdom upon which organisations can build a strong foundation of expertise, and avoid costly rookie mistakes. It is an intelligence type that is fundamental when it comes to skill-sharing and the development of younger employees.”

The Department for Education has launched a campaign calling for skilled workers to share their skills by teaching part-time in further education alongside their jobs.

Jenny Garrett, managing director of executive coaching company Reflexion Associates, said that sharing expertise is a highly rewarding experience for employees.

She told HR magazine: “There’s never been a better time to harness that passion for skills sharing and learning and turn it to further education teaching. 

“Industry professionals can use their real world experience to pass on their knowledge and bring theory to life.”

HR is ideally placed to ensure the next generation gets the skills it needs Garrett said.

She added: “Many HR professionals will have nurtured their own skills of mentoring and advising through their roles, so are well equipped to help employees looking to explore skills sharing beyond the workplace.”