- The workforce of the future in the U.S. is expected to become increasingly more diverse and more inclusive of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.
- In 2019, for the first time ever, most new hires in America from ages 25-54 were people of color.
- Older workers will begin to compose a greater percentage of the workforce population; younger people have been declining in labor force participation over the past 20 years.
When considering the future of work, a word that consistently comes up is “change.”
Technology, work mediums, and occupations will continue to change. More people than ever will be working, and more people than ever will be doing so from the comfort of their homes.
Likewise, the demographics of the workforce of the future will also change. But how? This article will tell you everything you need to know about changing demographics and the future of work.
The present can tell us about the future
Demographic changes in the global workforce have been shifting for decades now. In the United States, in particular, the workforce has become more inclusive – as opposed to its historical exclusivity of ethnic minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community.
At present, it is fair to say that America’s current workforce is the most diverse and inclusive in its history. Since the 1960s, opportunities for work, skill development, and career advancement have been increasing in availability for historically marginalized groups.
In 2019, for the first time ever, most new hires in America from ages 25-54 were people of color.
These inclusive changes are expected to continue indefinitely into the future. That is, the workforce of the future in the U.S. is expected to become increasingly more diverse and more inclusive of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.
More age diversity
One of the most commonly reported manifestations of this increase in diversity is age diversity. This is in part due to low birth rates, but it is also because it is more common now for people to work into their 70s.
By 2024, for instance, 24.8 percent of the workforce population will be 55 and older, whereas, in 1994, only 11.9 percent were. Most workers have always been – and will always be – in the age bracket of 25 to 54, but increasingly, older workers will work alongside them.
An age group that is expected to decline in labor force participation in the future of work actually consists of young people (ages 16 to 24). According to Deloitte, younger people have been declining in labor force participation over the past 20 years.
This group, according to Deloitte’s report, has and will continue to decline in labor force participation largely because of the increased emphasis on higher education in the pursuit of work.
Hence, despite technological changes that may indeed favor younger workers, older workers will begin to compose a greater percentage of the workforce population, and younger workers will begin to compose a smaller percentage.
Key implications of major demographic changes in the future of work
More diversity and inclusivity will characterize the primary demographic changes in the future of work. What will the implications of these changes be?
Increased potential for polarization
Gen Z workers are now increasingly entering the workforce. They are more tech-savvy than their generational predecessors and are going to compose 27 percent of the workforce population by 2025.
Recent reports already suggest that there are increasing tensions between generations in the workforce. Older generations have perceived Gen Z workers as bolder, and less willing to comply with rules that older generations have come to view as conventional prudence.
With more Gen Z workers flooding into workplaces, and older generations retaining their jobs into even older ages, this increases the potential for workplace polarization on the basis of age. Especially considering recent trends in hyperpartisanship, it is likely that some of this polarization will be political in nature.
The limits of age in the workforce will expand
Another interesting fact about modernity is that the U.S. has one of the highest populations of healthy people in human history. The life expectancy of someone born in the U.S. right now is 81-years-old, which is six years older than the grandparents of someone born right now.
The limits of this are uncertain. What is certain, however, is that, due to advances in medical and health science, our quality of life in old age is going to improve. This will make it more feasible for those even beyond their 70s to remain in the workforce and labor market.
The future of work, in other words, might be even older than we have ever anticipated it would be.
Skill transfer across generations
The primary skills obtained by different generations are, in essence, different. Gen Z workers, for instance, may not have the best soft skills, but they are adept in using new technology and the internet. By contrast, baby boomers have greater soft skills than Gen Z workers, but they are not as proficient as them in technological adroitness.
The future of work will entail increasing cross-generational collaboration. A growing older workforce will work side-by-side with a majority workforce population of millennials and Gen Z workers.
In order for such collaboration to be successful, generations will need to teach each other their strengths. Such collaborative efforts should be intentionally organized. Some of it will occur organically, but with already existing tensions between generations, much of it won’t.
Demographically, the future of work will be more diverse and inclusive – particularly when it comes to age. While polarization may increase, it doesn’t necessarily have to. If efforts are made to transfer skills across generations, such polarization can be nullified by productivity and positive collaboration.