Why you should consider training older workers for blue-collar jobs

older blue-collar worker

Are you one of the many employers who are having problems to find enough young candidates to hire? There is a solution to this issue: Try hiring and training older people!

Generation shift in blue-collar industries

The pool of candidates to hire is shrinking because many people in the blue-collar workforce are now headed towards retirement. At the same time, due to decreasing birth rates, we are facing a smaller young generation. Studies predict that it will shrink by no less than 7% by 2050. There are more old than young workers employed.

Furthermore, these young people enter the labor market later and many choose higher education over a career in one of the blue-collar industries. They often decide against manual work because it is said to be dirty or because they think that a college degree can lead to jobs with higher wages.

What are the benefits of employing mature workers?

No need to feel discouraged by this development, though: There are a lot of workers from the older generation who are still available since today, people work longer due to pension reforms. And even if many might associate mature-aged employees with compensating high absence rates, inefficiencies or the like, what we are thinking of is their precious experience, knowledge, work ethic and commitment.

They also enjoy better fitness compared to previous generations of mature workers and an increasing amount of the hardest tasks have been given to machines, anyway. So as long as baby boomers are on the labor market, we should consider hiring and training them!

What you have to pay attention to when employing and training older workers

However, your older workers demand a bit of thought and care, e.g. regarding their health. Because even if according to some studies there are fewer accidents with experienced, aging workers, they are exposed to a greater risk of longer lasting injuries resulting from lifting heavy burdens or odd postures. They are more likely to have to stay away from their work longer to recover.

Also in training their prerequisites and needs differ from their younger colleagues’. In surveys they appeared less willing and harder to motivate to undertake further training. If you take the chance to get them into training, however, they will be easier to motivate afterwards because people who have undergone training once appreciate the benefits of training and find that it usually exceeds people’s expectations. Training is more likely to turn out a useful investment of your staff’s time if all of the participants in one group are on a similar level e.g. in terms of the use of technical devices.

Computer-based training for elderly employees?

Remember your older employers grew up without computers and smart devices. They might never have been in touch with them in their work environment at all. However, that does not mean you will have to cut out all computer-based technologies from your approved methods from training younger employees. Just give your mature-age workers the time they need to get used to technical devices, give thorough explanations and offer appointments for individual questions afterwards.

They might also be frequent users of smart devices in their every-day lives, maybe with Facebook or WhatsApp. Take up their personal experience to show them the advantages of the software you would like to apply. They will be more open to a new program if they see that it has something in common with the apps they already know. This will also encourage them to explore this and future technologies.

It’s worth considering in your training concept that older generations might prefer a touchscreen over a mouse. Or you could make the learning experience even more realistic and intuitive by using voice-operated training solutions.

Our best tips for employers

You need older workers to maintain your workforce. Make them a great offer to attract or to keep them. Here’s what you can do:

Help older employees get used to technical devices
  • Useful knowledge for their job: Blue-collar jobs are nowadays high-tech jobs
  • Provide a gentle start: Use voice-operated training solutions
Customize your aims and goals according to older workers’ conditions
  • Don’t push (any of) your workers to cross their physical limits
  • Allow your older staff different working hours, shorter shifts, longer breaks, lower expected piece rate etc.
  • Take safety training seriously
Communicate your appreciation for your blue-collar staff
  • Offer them fair salaries and working conditions
  • Motivate them by showing them training will lead to job security
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