You don’t need to dig deep into the world of news to discover the anxieties expressed about the world’s greying population and the forecasted labour shortages when baby boomers retire. On home soil, the concerns are shared by media, employers and economic forecasts which are all contributing to this chorus.
According to Infometrics New Zealand, 2010 and 2011 represented the start of baby boomers retiring, and the population reaching retirement age is expected to double in just over a decade.
Be that as it may, there is always a silver lining – a great opportunity – that lies within every challenge. With PwC predicting that by 2020, millennials will form 50 percent of the global workforce, all eyes are on this up and coming generation that will inherit the workforce and the leadership positions that were once held by their predecessors. And what an incredible privilege!
We all know and appreciate that what enriches an organisation is the experience, enthusiasm and energy of its staff. Short-sightedness attributes experience solely to time spent in an industry. And while longevity in a position or long-term dedication to refining skills certainly increases the value of an employee, there are other important pieces to the puzzle that millennials can benefit from bearing in mind when they are being considered for roles.
Having grown up with the world at their fingertips – quite literally – the first advantage millennials have over their older workforce counterparts is their fluency in the language of tech that extends to social media – a fundamental tool in many workplaces. Aside from having a great foundation of valuable knowledge, millennials should be thinking about how they can put their best foot forward from the outset to enjoy climbing the workforce ladder and the opportunity to lead.
Ultimately this journey benefits from a great start – one rooted in great learning, which can provide exposure to not only theory but practice. Both are equally important. Fortunately, education is no longer confined to the four walls of a bricks and mortar classroom, and thanks to 24/7 connectivity, personal development can take place at any hour of the day – a considerable advantage that gives millennials a greater sense of ownership over their careers than ever before.
There is great benefit in signing up for additional courses to build soft skills like organisation and time management, as well as looking for training based education that demonstrates accountability and ambition to employers.
Great leadership goes hand-in-hand with great management so acquiring and improving applied management and project management skills also calls for education. No one great leader became a great leader over night, and while a text book doesn’t hold all of the answers, it introduces fundamental principles that can be applied throughout the journey at both operational and strategic levels.
Age certainly doesn’t dictate competence, but there is no question that great leadership roles can only be secured and held by those who are willing to do the legwork, and the time to act is now.