State agencies and local municipalities expect a significant rise in the retirement rate of their workforce during the next five years. Firefighters, police officers and other public safety personnel are expected to make up a significant portion of all total retiring workers. This trend is primarily due to the fact that staff in these emergency service roles are typically eligible for retirement at an earlier age compared to most public sector employees.
Agencies that offer effective training and development programs are better positioned to identify and prepare staff to move into new roles as workers reach retirement age. Most workers need additional education to be ready to assume key leadership or technical roles as they become available. Gaps in skills and capabilities need to be identified so development plans can be created to ensure that successors for open positions will be ready when the time comes to take over the new role.
Public sector organizations must take actions to create development plans for current and new employees who will fill the positions of retiring staff. Leading public sector organizations are being proactive and creating plans now to address the inevitable. Poor planning can lead to significant issues such as inferior service levels and a decreased satisfaction level of constituents.
Another area for concern is an overall increase in risk to the organization, particularly for positions that require certifications and are critical to maintaining compliance with changing laws, union regulations and more. The ability to effectively track and manage licenses, certifications and accreditations is the best way to avoid potential future problems and reduce the overall level of risk to the agency.
Recruitment and employee retention are also a cause for worry in most public sector agencies who must compete with the private sector for talent. After all, labor markets have been tight for the last several years and the trend is set to continue. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated an unemployment rate of only 3.6 percent. Agencies that invest in employee retention and education of new staff are the ones that will not only survive in the current labor market, they will thrive.
If your agency has an aging workforce, it’s never too soon to begin to prepare.