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Businesses need to prepare IT department for Baby Boomer departure

September 05, 2013

Even as businesses look toward the next generation of employees and contemplate the need to recruit, onboard and integrate freshly graduated students into their structure, they should also be mindful of the past. Much of the current workforce is composed of Baby Boomers, but a considerable number of them are reaching retirement age - a Pew Research Center reported noted that 10,000 of them will reach the retirement age of 65 every day for the next 17 years. With many experts believing that schools are not training enough professionals to fill the burgeoning IT jobs market, the loss of older workers will only exacerbate the problem. 

Those organizations still running important systems on legacy technology may be the hardest hit by this generational shift. While younger IT workers will typically be better trained in the latest innovations, Baby Boomers will often be more familiar with the older operating systems, software and hardware that some companies may still employ. 

The upside to this shift is that legacy systems will gradually be retired. However, companies may need to transfer data from older technology and this is where seasoned IT professionals become immensely important. IDG News Service recently highlighted the importance these individuals can have in transitioning from older software to cloud-based services, as a thorough understanding of the programs may be needed to maintain functionality after the move. By contrast, many younger IT workers have had little incentive to learn about older aspects of information technology, which may make it difficult for companies to find consultants up to the task of upgrading key operations. 

"It's interesting how we have a handful of really important systems that have held on," said John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, to the source. "The mainframe tends to be the one we all point to but I'm sure there's others out there. We hear about applications that still run on what we call legacy from our standpoint, like an old Windows NT server or an old 1995 machine."

Ease the hunt for jobs and IT professionals alike
While a number of Baby Boomers working in the IT industry have retired from full-time work, some have continued as part-time consultants. For organizations working with legacy software, third-party IT staffing and services solutions can help provide appropriately skilled workers familiar with the technology. As much of this work may only be temporary, these kinds of agencies provide a convenient method for finding the part-time employees needed to implement upgrades or maintain older technology. These companies can also help semi-retired IT professionals find work suited to their skill set without the need for an arduous job search. 

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