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On Demographics
Old 12-14-2006, 06:20 PM   #1
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On Demographics

The group of employed people I am still associated with are all technically trained and, except for me, highly skilled. One of the group has the ages of all of us in a spreadsheet and I was surprised and intrigued with the data.

The group has 46 members. Our median age is 53.33 years. Three are over 65 (a terrifying thought). There is then a gap of 4 years. The next oldest is 61. That means that 20 individuals in my group are between 53 and 61. This group represents some of the most technically skilled individuals in our industry Ė again, I am excluded. Within the next 10 years, almost all of us will be gone from the workforce. Iím on the young end of the curve and I hope to be gone within 2 years. Most of my peers are ďnormalĒ and probably canít afford to retire early. Their health will fail like many of us.

I canít help but believe that the same numbers exist in most of America. This should be a real disrupter in the near future.

I've been playing around with various thoughts about what might happen if we go into a recession with deep layoffs or our present boom continues for more than 5 years. By then about 20% of the workforce would be over 65 and some of them would bail by then (other than me).
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-14-2006, 06:25 PM   #2
 
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Re: On Demographics

It sounds like that there might be a demand for older technical workers. - Since most of them cannot afford to retire, they might continue to find work and fund my Social Security

Works for me!

Even though I was technical, I don't think I could actually go to work at this stage in my life!
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-14-2006, 07:13 PM   #3
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Re: On Demographics

Guess it depends on where you work. In my department at work, out of 8 or so guys, all are under 30 except one guy who is 33. All highly skilled, technical employees (engineers). Average education of a masters, with a couple of doc's thrown in. We have some older guys at our company, but out of 25 technical employees, only 2 are "old" (around 65). The others are all 40's and younger as far as I know.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-14-2006, 09:59 PM   #4
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Re: On Demographics

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B

I canít help but believe that the same numbers exist in most of America. This should be a real disrupter in the near future.
2B is right, and not just in IT. The demographics of the next few decades in North America are scary. There will not be sufficient young people around to do the work unless other changes occur, e.g. late retirements, increased immigration, significant increase in automation........
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-14-2006, 11:34 PM   #5
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Re: On Demographics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh
There will not be sufficient young people around to do the work unless other changes occur, e.g. late retirements, increased immigration, significant increase in automation........
I think that's already happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
I canít help but believe that the same numbers exist in most of America. This should be a real disrupter in the near future.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard went through a demographic shift about five years ago. Their medical clinic sounded the alert when they noticed that their requests for trifocal eyeglasses prescriptions had quintupled over a few years.

PHNSY had gone through years of layoffs (part of the Cold War's "peace dividend") so the remaining workers were the most senior. The solution involved chasing new (civilian) contracts and eventually hiring a younger workforce as the older ones retired.

What's preventing that from happening throughout America? Either the Boomers have no savings and work until they drop, or we all cash in our 401(k)s for a life of leisure and turn the reins over to the youngsters, or we ramp up immigration to cover the gaps.

Japan has some of the tightest residency & immigration laws in the world, and look what that's given them...
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 02:40 AM   #6
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Re: On Demographics

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Japan has some of the tightest residency & immigration laws in the world, and look what that's given them...
Yup. The concentration of expertise in the most senior strata of the population is quite noticeable. It can be a real problem when the only person in the country who knows how to do something really well retires or dies, and there is no junior apprentice to be found to take over. There was a documentary on TV a couple of years ago about a fairly complicated asteroid probe (Hayabusa), where it was noted that they basically had to pull some machinists out of retirement to build parts of it, because nobody else could do that kind of work any more. I hope some youngster was peering over their shoulders while they were working on it.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 07:00 AM   #7
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Re: On Demographics

I remember all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the late 80s over the same fears. In the Federal government we had "Workforce 2000" a comprehensive program to plan for and staff up for the impending crisis. A few years later all was forgotten as the crisis failed to materialise.

Don't worry, be happy -- we have lots of immigrants to fill the gap.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 07:02 AM   #8
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Re: On Demographics

And (perish the thought), could be the source of some lucrative consulting if we choose, from time to time ...
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 07:37 AM   #9
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Re: On Demographics

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And (perish the thought), could be the source of some lucrative consulting if we choose, from time to time ...
Yeah, COBOL programmers could go back to work in their 90s if they run out of money.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 09:25 AM   #10
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Re: On Demographics

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Guess it depends on where you work.
Agree justin. When I retired from high tech MegaCorp six months ago at 58, I was in the top 1% age-wise. Between RIF's and VSP's, almost all of my generation had been pastured before me. Sometimes I'd go all day attending meetings, lunch in the cafeteria, walking the halls, etc., without seeing another "greybeard."

The impact of we oldsters being gone? I still get an occasional email from a couple of associates in Asia I was mentoring asking for tips on handling some sticky issues, but other than that, the youngsters seem to be doing just fine.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 09:41 AM   #11
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Re: On Demographics

Re: immigrants - these guys are going to become increasingly important. I actually got my small engineering company to sponsor and hire a H1B-visa guy from South America after they realized the H1B process was a rather small burden given that this guy was technically proficient and highly motivated to work. We're in a field and in a point in the economic cycle that it is very difficult to find (and keep) employees. Now this guy is here contributing to our economy and paying taxes into our government coffers.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 02:09 PM   #12
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Re: On Demographics

Some posters have hit on one of my "thoughts." We have had various recessions that have always primarily put the oldsters out to pasture. It happened to me in 2002 but I bounced back. I managed to convince a company desperate for technical skills that I could hold my own. I think I am worth what I'm being paid but what about the next downdraft? In my group, 50% of the people are over 53. I think we have 3 to 5 years before the present boom starts to fade. When that happens, we have the geezers all ready to send out the door (again) but this time a lot of that group may have already bailed out on their own. Will we create our own reduction in force to save the kids from taking a hit?
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 04:05 PM   #13
 
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Re: On Demographics

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Re: immigrants - these guys are going to become increasingly important. I actually got my small engineering company to sponsor and hire a H1B-visa guy from South America after they realized the H1B process was a rather small burden given that this guy was technically proficient and highly motivated to work. We're in a field and in a point in the economic cycle that it is very difficult to find (and keep) employees. Now this guy is here contributing to our economy and paying taxes into our government coffers.
Yes I heard an economic program on Public Radio that predicted that a lot of developed countries would soon (5-10 years) be 'competing' for immigrants.

Our whole economy is built on growth. Gotta get it from somewhere. Babies or Immigrants!
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 04:43 PM   #14
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Re: On Demographics

Hmmm

Circa 1966 - in my welcome to Boeing orientation for engineers we had 13, 6 Americans, 7 green card holders from everywhere else.

After 1970 - around the time someone put up the sign "Will The Last Person Leaving Seattle Please Turn Out The Lights." - I'm guessing the green card holders went 'elsewhere'.

Heh, heh heh heh - ebb and flow - perhaps labor will become as mobile as capital - someday.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-15-2006, 09:41 PM   #15
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Re: On Demographics

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
Some posters have hit on one of my "thoughts." We have had various recessions that have always primarily put the oldsters out to pasture. It happened to me in 2002 but I bounced back.
That's one of the reasons that the Roosevelt administration created Social Security during the Depression.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-17-2006, 06:01 AM   #16
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Re: On Demographics

Also think beyond IT, donfeff.
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Re: On Demographics
Old 12-17-2006, 06:52 PM   #17
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Re: On Demographics

I'm interested in how this will affect health care. Once the baby boomer era of surgeons retires, I hope there are enough left over to cover all the needed surgeries, as demand is expected to surge. I don't think the number of residency spots has risen enough to meet the demand.
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