Recent Eurostat data observes a growing shortage of young people across Europe. Among the countries belonging to the European Union, the highest share of representatives in the youngest generations was recorded in Ireland (above 20%) and the lowest in Germany (13.4%). Poland ranks among the below-average countries - young people currently constitute just over 15 percent.
DEMOGRAPHICS: AN AGE-OLD CHALLENGE FOR SOCIETY
It is estimated that 70 years ago people over 65 years old only accounted for 5% population around the world. Deep social, economic, and technological changes meant that a few years ago this percentage reached 8 percent. However, this is not the end - demographers estimate that even 40 percent of countries are currently in a situation where more than 7 percent of the population is people over 65 years of age. In thirty years the number of countries afflicted could reach up to 80 percent, with the majority struggling with the advancing older ages of their population.
"Europe is aging rapidly. This process is the result of both a significant increase in life expectancy and a lower birth rate than in the past. Next year, there will be seven active employees worldwide for every person over 65. By the middle of the century - as the share of seniors in the total population increased - this indicator will drop to four," points out Aleksandra Tyszkiewicz, Director at Hays Poland.
Why is an aging population not accompanied by births that could have a positive effect on trends? In Poland, the fertility rate (ratio of births to women of childbearing age) is 1:43. The last time the birth rate aligned with the mortality rate was almost thirty years ago: 1990.
As for the reasons behind this situation, labor market experts point to a flurry of causes: the growing freedom of choice and progressiveness are one such, but there's also the issue of increasingly dire responsibilities, challenges, and other - often less satisfying - forms of personal recognition as a whole.
LONG CAREER, SHORT RETIREMENT
The key barrier in the development of companies is the shortage of suitable candidates; this, in turn, spurns action in sourcing where the greatest unused potential is.
"We see more and more clearly that in the context of the observed demographic trends, employers are opening up to older employees," emphasizes Tyszkiewicz. "People who can and want to stay active at work now have a chance. We live longer and in better health, and the trend of encouraging people to stay at work despite reaching retirement age is becoming more and more visible on the market."
However, for people of retirement age to successfully pursue a professional life, it is necessary to change work culture beliefs that after reaching a certain age, people become unproductive, less useful at work, cope worse with technology, and can't keep up in a changing environment.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary not only to extend career paths but also to provide mature employees with employment conditions tailored to their needs. Flexible forms of employment and working time, stability and ensuring an adequate standard of living are valuable. The end of a professional career for many people usually means a decrease in quality of life, both financially and interpersonally: meaningful work satisfies not only economic needs, but also important psychosocial needs.
A MATURE EMPLOYEE IS A GOOD EMPLOYEE
A growing percentage of employers also sees the benefits of employing mature people - including those who have been out of work or retiring for a long time. They are undeniably experienced workers, but also people rich in life wisdom who can share their valuable knowledge with the younger generation. Moreover, market observations show that this employee group has greater loyalty than other generations.
As noted by Tyszkiewicz, a diversified work environment is also beneficial for employees, providing greater mentorship and growth: "Diversity in terms of age brings different points of view that help create better products and services. Better decisions are made by involving people with different experiences. Then more factors, opinions and perspectives are taken into account."
Employers under the pressure of market trends and challenges they must face recognize the value that mature employees can bring to an organization. Their strength is not only in professional experience, but also in the invaluable loyalty and accuracy they bring to managerial and mentorship roles.
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