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January 2019
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TD Magazine

Boeing Rehires Retired Workers to Fill Talent Need

It's no secret, people are living longer now than ever before. According to a report by the World Bank, the average life expectancy across the world has risen from 53 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2015—and there is no end in sight. Going forward, life expectancy is projected to increase by 1.5 years per decade. Combine that with falling birth rates, and the workforce is getting considerably older, putting businesses in a unique situation.

According to a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report, Baby Boomer Workers Are Revolutionizing Retirement: Are They and Their Employers Ready?, more than 80 percent of U.S. employers believe that workers ages 50 and older are "a valuable resource for training and mentoring," "an important source of institutional knowledge," and offer "more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience." Boeing, in agreement with these results, has decided to act upon them.

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After reaching record production levels in June 2018, Boeing experienced a crippling snarl at its 737 jetliner plant in Renton, Washington. To combat the resulting losses, the leaders in flight started hiring retired mechanics and inspectors on a temporary basis. The company had a similar agreement with the union in autumn 2017 following a round of voluntary layoffs.

As of mid-September 2018, Boeing had already deployed about 600 employees and new hires to Renton to help fix delays. As the workforce continues to age, this technique will likely become increasingly common and essential.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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