Older workers and intergenerational workplaces: Implications for management educators

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Bourke, J.
Bourke, D.
Older workers
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Increased workforce participation by older workers is an emerging reality. Older workers are often perceived as reluctant learners unable to adapt to new technology, but both research and empirical evidence suggest that this stereotyping is not valid. Where managers hold to this view they create the reality of aged-based cohorting by denying older workers training in technology, which in turn leads to reduced technological skills. Consequently, older workers will be denied positions where technology skills are important. Yet, as producers and consumers, older workers can only remain valuable economic contributors if managers better understand how to encourage them to change and (re)train. The limiting factors in developing workers are attitude and aptitude, not age. Discrimination on age-related grounds can distract the debate from the real management issues around maintaining a competent workforce. Training and development in the workplace is about developing workforce skills. Managers cannot expect optimal performance in a changing workplace unless investment is made in developing workers hand-in-hand with investment in technologies. Stigmatising a worker cohort on the basis of age is counter-productive to this process. This paper reports an analysis made of relevant New Zealand Diploma in Business courses to establish the extent to which learners are introduced to management of intergenerational workplace issues. The conclusion reached is that no learning outcomes address these issues, and raises the question of whether management educators are permitted sufficient flexibility to introduce emerging workplace issues in this programme.
Bourke, J., & Bourke, D. (2010). Older workers and intergenerational workplaces: Implications for management educators. In New Zealand Applied Business Education Conference, Napier, New Zealand.