Bridging The Workforce Gap: How AI-based Virtual Assistants Offer a Solution To The Baby Boomer Retirement Challenge
In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, one of the most pressing concerns for industries across various sectors is the lack of workforce caused by the retirement of the senior Baby Boomer generation. This demographic shift not only leads to a shortage of skilled professionals but also to the loss of valuable tribal knowledge that retiring workers bring with them.
Organizations, particularly those in manufacturing, maintenance, and operations, can face significant challenges in bridging the knowledge gaps left behind by experienced employees. AI-based virtual assistants emerge as a promising solution to this critical pain point.
The expected workforce and knowledge gap
Seventy-five million Baby Boomers are expected to retire by 2030, paving the way for what is now called "The Great Retirement" (Laura Kemp, 2022).
The ongoing retirement wave of the Baby Boomer generation poses a formidable challenge to industries. These workers possess a wealth of knowledge accumulated over the years, including insights into technical processes, best practices, and troubleshooting techniques.
Consequently, as baby boomers retire, they will likely leave behind all the experience that could be beneficial to their younger colleagues and entrepreneurs.
Germany: Born between 1946 and 1964, the baby boomer generation represents a crucial part of the entire labor force in Germany and plays a prominent role in the development of the labor supply. The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports that “12.9 million economically active people will have surpassed retirement age by 2036”.
The employment rate of individuals aged 55 to 64 in Germany has significantly increased from 62% in 2012, to nearly 72% in 2021.
Similarly, in the European Union, this growth has climbed from 47% to 60% during the same timeframe (Destatis, 2023). The baby boomer generation plays a major role as regards the development of labour supply in Germany and Europe, and they will retire within no more than a decade.
USA: In the United States, one in four workers is a Boomer, amounting to 41 million in total (Adecco USA, 2022).
As they are going to retire, a whole well-educated generation of workers will take their skills and knowledge with them, as claimed by Daniel Marschall - policy specialist with the AFL-CIO who has been studying workforce development for more than 30 years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retirement of the Senior Baby Boomer generation is expected to have a significant impact on the workforce. By 2029, the number of individuals aged 65 and older is projected to reach 71 million, accounting for nearly 20% of the total U.S. population (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022).
This demographic shift poses a considerable challenge for industries across various sectors, particularly those heavily reliant on experienced workers.
In 2050, about 21 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older compared to more than 30 percent in much of Western Europe - especially Germany (Census Bureau, 2014).
Manufacturing Industry Suffers From Knowledge Loss
Boomers thrive in the installation, transportation, and engineering industries. This generation is accustomed to working with their hands and was raised before the internet.
Service technicians are highly skilled in providing services related to industrial machines and equipment, as well as being able to identify and resolve issues quickly. Furthermore, they tend to have excellent interpersonal skills, which are essential for assisting customers.
This to say, industries that heavily rely on hands-on tasks, such as manufacturing, maintenance, and operations, are particularly vulnerable to this knowledge loss. The instructions and expertise provided by retiring workers are crucial for technicians and other personnel involved in executing these tasks.
Without access to this tribal knowledge, organizations could face increased downtime, inefficiencies, and potential risks to quality and safety.
Data from USA and EU
In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 29% of all service technicians are 55 years old or older (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). This indicates a significant portion of the service technician workforce belonging to the Baby Boomer generation.
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) states that the average age of service technicians in the facility management industry is 50 years old (IFMA, 2022). This suggests that a substantial number of service technicians in this sector are approaching retirement age.
Last but not least, the European Center for Development and Vocational Training (ECDCT) reports that by 2030 the manufacturing industry will need around 10.2 millions of replacements, due to the Great Retirement of baby boomers (ECDCT, 2020).
Clearly, this highlights the imminent retirement of Baby Boomer service technicians across various industries.
As these skilled professionals will exit the workforce, organizations will face the challenge of replacing their expertise and knowledge in order to maintain operational efficiency and quality service delivery.
The adoption of AI-based virtual agents can be a viable solution to bridge the knowledge gap and ensure a smooth transition for the incoming workforce.
Bridging the Gap with AI-based Solutions
AI-based virtual assistants have emerged as a game-changing solution to the workforce crisis and knowledge gaps. Intelligent systems employ natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to achieve human-like interactions and provide valuable assistance to employees.
By harnessing the power of AI, virtual assistants offer numerous benefits to service organizations.
01 Safe knowledge storage
Firstly, they act as a repository of institutional knowledge, capturing and organizing critical information that might otherwise be lost due to retirement or turnover.
Virtual assistants can learn from experienced professionals, capture their expertise, and make it available to the entire organization. They create a knowledge repository to ensure that essential instructions and best practices are accessible to employees, minimizing disruptions caused by the loss of tribal knowledge.
02 Real-time support
Secondly, AI-based virtual assistants excel at providing on-demand support and guidance. Technicians and operators can access them in real-time and get step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting advice, and relevant documentation.
In other words, employees have access to the necessary guidance without having to rely on experienced personnel who may no longer be available due to retirement.
03 Context aware assistance
Furthermore, virtual assistants are continuously learning and adapting, improving their performance over time. By analyzing data and feedback from employees, these systems can refine their responses, becoming even more proficient in providing accurate and context-aware assistance.
The adaptive capability bridges the knowledge gap and facilitates the development of workforce capacity by empowering less experienced employees to undertake complex tasks with the guidance of AI.
The introduction of AI-based virtual assistants into service organizations has the potential to revolutionize the way knowledge is transferred, accessed, and applied within the workforce.
By addressing the pain points caused by retiring Baby Boomers, these intelligent systems become a vital component of organizations' strategies to mitigate the workforce crisis.
With virtual assistants, organizations can minimize disruptions caused by retirement and ensure a seamless transition of knowledge. The captured expertise of retiring workers can be effectively preserved and shared across the organization, empowering employees with the necessary guidance to carry out tasks efficiently and effectively.
Moreover, AI-based virtual assistants enhance workforce productivity by reducing the time spent searching for information and troubleshooting problems.
Employees no longer need to rely solely on their personal experience or the limited resources at their disposal. Instead, they can access a comprehensive knowledge base, powered by AI, that provides them with accurate and up-to-date information, empowering them to make informed decisions and solve complex problems
KNOWRON : The Virtual Assistant that Effectively Bridges the Knowledge Gap
KNOWRON is an AI-powered digital assistant, working with NLP technology, aimed to grant service technicians round-the-clock support.
Among the several capabilities of the assistant, the mobile application ensures deskless workers with a 24/7 knowledge access. One should simply ask a question to receive context-aware answers extracted from the organizational documentation in seconds. This way, technicians get the required information to develop any hands-on taks, directly from their pocket and on demand.
- How do you retain your tribal knowledge with Knowron? Through the browser platform, organizations can safely upload their documentation to store and share it throughout the teams. Knowron would work as the organizational document management system.
- What is at stake? By leveraging efficient search capabilities, valuable time can be saved, allowing workers to dedicate their efforts to critical tasks. Moreover, productivity can be enhanced through a more comprehensive access to relevant knowledge.
This is not all! Our virtual assistant is empowered by AI and NLP with many other capabilities!