19/01/2017 07:38 GMT | Updated 20/01/2018 05:12 GMT

17 Going On 70: The Workforce Of The Future

It's no lie that people are living longer. There are now five generations in the workforce - and this is going to become the norm. It'd be foolish to think that this won't change the way we hire and train our staff, so it's vital that businesses adapt too. That means understanding the need to hire and train staff differently.

A recent report from the City & Guilds Group showed that a quarter of 25-34 year olds don't think they will ever retire. That's not particularly surprising; a huge number of people are already planning for thirty, forty more years in the workforce.

And as research from Business In The Community further highlights, by 2022, there will be 12.5 million vacancies created by people leaving the workforce, and 2 million new vacancies. However there will only be 7 million young people to fill them, resulting in a 7.5 million skills gap. This could make retiring even harder.

Businesses must be prepared for future trends - and prepare their staff too - so they're not on the back foot. That means introducing training programmes and initiatives that support all generations in the workplace - whether that's helping them get into a job, or helping them develop on the job.

Putting this into practice

Earlier this year, we launched the Princess Royal Training Awards, which recognises learning and development programmes that make a real difference to people and businesses. Over 100 organisations applied for the awards programmes and 33 achieved the standard.

One thing all recipients clearly demonstrated is that when it comes to learning and development, there is no 'one size fits all' model. Instead, it's vital for organisations to adapt their training to suit the needs of their employees, as well as their business, so they have the skilled workforce for future growth. And that includes thinking about future challenges that could be caused by changing demographics.

Take Dale Power Solutions as an example. Ten years ago, the organisation realised it needed to respond to an ageing workforce to protect the future of its business. With challenges such as the engineering skills shortage and a general decline of manufacturing in the UK, Dale Power decided to focus its succession strategy on apprenticeships. It brought younger people into the business to tackle the ageing workforce, and created a transfer of skills from older, to younger workers. Today, 43% of Dale Power's workforce kick-started their careers with an apprenticeship.

But training is not solely restricted to younger generations; all of Dale Power's employees benefit from training and development - and that includes those well into their 60s. Investing in training and aligning it to business needs has helped the older generation stay up to date with the skills they need, while significantly improving age diversity in the business. In fact, 44% of employees are now under 40 years old.

This is just one example of how investing in development and training can future proof the workforce to protect it from the consequences of the ageing workforce. Other businesses would do well to follow in their footsteps; there are still too many businesses that aren't doing enough to prepare their organisations for the future. If businesses want to stay competitive and continue to grow, they have a responsibility to develop the staff of today - whatever their age - for the workplace of tomorrow.

The Princess Royal Training Awards 2017 are now open for entry. Find out more here.