Baby boomer skills gap causing concern for UAE businesses

Businesses in the UAE are concerned about a looming skills gap that could occur as the Baby Boomer generation become closer to their retirement age.

  • UAE finance leaders are actively taking steps to mitigate risk of departing baby boomers currently aged between 50 and 70
  • 84% of finance leaders are concerned of a skills gap occurring as retirement for baby boomers gets closer and skilled professionals plan to leave the workforce
  • 36% of UAE businesses are primarily preparing for a skills gap by increasing training and professional development programmes
  • Generation X and Y will dictate significant change to the workplace

Dubai, 4 February, 2016 – UAE finance leaders are already preparing for a significant skills gap from baby boomers departing the workforce in the next two to five years according to newly released research1 from recruitment specialist Robert Half UAE. Over eight in ten (84%) UAE finance leaders are concerned about a looming skills gap over the next two years from the baby-boomer generation retiring. This is not only a short term concern either, in fact 83% of senior finance leaders are concerned that over the next five years there will be a negative impact from the departure of the baby-boomer generation.

Born during the demographic post-World War II and before 1965, baby boomers are aged between 50 and 70 as of 2016 and are associated with the soaring post-war birth-rate. They are also known as one of the last generations to experience and take advantage of regular improvements in the socio-economic landscape, and the resulting concern for businesses is that baby boomers represent a large proportion in the workforce today and are soon to be at retirement age, meaning there could be a looming skills gap as they take their knowledge with them.

Businesses in UAE are having to consider how they are going to accommodate the needs and demands from younger generation X and Y professionals as baby boomers look to retire. Not only will the expectations from employees shift, there is also concern that there will be a negative impact to businesses as skills are not passed on.

Companies in the UAE are already preparing for the loss of skills from experienced professionals by increasing training and professional development programmes (36%), enhancing employee benefits to retain baby boomers (32%), hiring mid-level talent to develop a skills pipeline (29%), increasing mentoring programmes/knowledge transfer (29%), hiring senior-level talent to replace retiring employees (28%), developing succession planning strategies (23%), offering flexible and/or part-time work arrangements to attract and retain baby boomers (13%). Of the respondents, 4% are doing nothing and 4% do not see a potential skills gap at all.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director of Robert Half UAE, commented: “As the baby boomer generation head closer to retirement, there is a concern that valuable employees will leave creating a knowledge gap within the business. With the region already facing a skills shortage, it’s important for businesses to start developing a robust succession plan now, with a strong emphasis on attracting and retaining skilled professionals in order to maintain competitiveness.

“Companies should look to develop mentoring schemes to help foster a knowledge transfer from senior employees in an effort to avoid losing invaluable information and skills from the workplace. As younger generations progress through the workforce, it’s important to understand and acknowledge the different age and skills gaps as it will allow businesses to plan effectively and secure their succession planning strategies.”

Robert Half offers the following strategies to retain the skills and experience of retiring baby boomers:

  1. Start preparing now. Develop a succession plan that identifies looming skills gaps and priority areas for recruitment.
  2. Assess all levels of the business. Don’t focus solely on senior-level roles. It’s important to have a strong leadership and management structure in place for key roles at all levels.
  3. Begin mentoring schemes. Work with employees and leadership to develop mentoring programmes, additional career development or education to ensure skills are passed on and career paths are visible within the business.

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Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UAE and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 75 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UAE, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy; a member of the S&P 500 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at