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Baby boomers will be the fastest-growing generation in the workforce next year, Glassdoor claims

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Baby boomers will be the fastest-growing age category in the U.S. and U.K. workforces next year, according to a new report.

Published Tuesday, Glassdoor's "Job and Hiring Trends for 2020" report outlined the jobs site's expectations for the job market in the year ahead, with a key trend expected to be a "gray wave" of senior citizens impacting the workforce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost 20% of Americans over the age of 65 were employed or actively looking for work last year, up from less than 12% two decades earlier. (The youngest baby boomers, born in 1964, turned or will turn 55 this year.)

"Labor force participation rate is expected to increase fastest for the oldest segments of the population — most notably, people aged 65 to 74 and 75 and older — through 2024," the BLS said in 2017. "In contrast, participation rates for most other age groups in the labor force aren't projected to change much over the 2014–24 decade."

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics expects Britain's over-65 workforce to grow by 20% in the decade to 2024. In 2016, the ONS predicted England's over-65 workforce would see an increase of almost 60% within 25 years.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published an article that outlined some of the reasons the global workforce was ageing.

"Science is making longer lives possible — and as people live longer, they are continuing to learn, to be productive and to contribute to society. For many people, that means continuing to work," the WEF said.

"Today, a key part of extended middle age is the freedom to work. More and more, people want to keep working past traditional retirement age because they want to continue to contribute to society and find meaning in their own lives – and work does that for them."

Additionally, Glassdoor noted that as the population aged, pensions may not be sufficient to support people throughout their longer lives, giving some no choice but to return to work. The over-65s "aren't going anywhere," the report said, noting that boomers are healthier than past generations and more in need of retirement income than their predecessors.

However, Glassdoor flagged that few employers were tapping into the growing baby boomer talent pool, with most recruitment drives focused on tech-savvy generation Z and millennial workers.

"In 2020 and beyond, we expect to see a dramatic shift in recruiting focus, with more strategies aimed at attracting the booming 65+ workforce and using it to companies' strategic advantage," Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain said in the report.

Benefits of employing experienced older workers included their "rich institutional knowledge" and professional contacts that can be difficult to find among younger talent, the report said.

Disputing a widely-held belief that younger workers were "more knowledge-nimble and tech-oriented," Glassdoor said baby boomers were just as open to improving their job skills.

"The best way to prepare both seasoned workers and newer generations in the coming decade is through investments in learning and development," Chamberlain said.

Last year, a survey of 570 British HR professionals by the U.K.'s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found more than half of employers expected to alter their recruitment and selection policies over the next five years to adapt to the aging workforce.

Tackling ageism

As boomers continued to work or re-enter the workforce, Glassdoor noted that some challenges would arise for employers — such as tackling ageism.

"Although employers around the globe have tackled important issues of gender identity and ethnic diversity in the workplace in recent years, the issue of age bias has gotten much less attention — something we expect to change in 2020 and beyond," the report said.

In June, a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that one in three Americans younger than 50 felt the aging workforce had negative implications for their own careers.

The World Health Organization has also flagged workplace ageism as a persistent issue, noting that "employers often have negative attitudes towards older workers… even though older workers are not necessarily less healthy, less educated, less skilful or productive than their younger counterparts."

Glassdoor referenced the findings of a study from Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research, which analyzed data from 1977 to 2011 and concluded that there was no evidence younger workers' opportunities were diminished by older workers remaining in the workforce. In fact, the researchers suggested, the opposite was true.

"That's an important message for HR teams to communicate to younger workers in the coming decade," Chamberlain said.

Correction: This story has been updated to give the correct age of the youngest baby boomers.

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