June 21, 2010

USA: Aging workforce challenges manufacturers

BOSTON, MA / The Boston Globe / Business Updates / June 21, 2010

A wave of retirements will saddle manufacturers with huge training costs and it will also pose the challenge of transferring job knowledge from one generation of workers to the next, says a new report by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College.

Since 2000, the US has lost millions of manufacturing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the pool of retirees has swelled as the percentage of workers aged 55 and older working in manufacturing increased significantly, the center said in a press release. The median cost of replacing employees in the manufacturing sector is $5,000 per employee, compared with $3,000 per employee in other sectors.

"In many ways, the aging of the workforce will be like a tide, drawing the talents of older workers out of the labor force," said Stephen Sweet, co-primary investigator for the Talent Management Study and co-author of "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Responsive Action Steps for the Manufacturing Sector."

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