Baby boomers in Europe’s workplace

Are baby boomers treated the same way in the workplace all over the western world? According to BoomerCafé’s publisher and co-founder David Henderson, the answer is no. That’s what he saw on a recent trip in Europe.

My last trip to Europe opened my eyes about how baby boomers’ knowledge, experience, and life achievements are being called up by businesses, higher education, and other organizations that want an edge in today’s competitive environment.

Lyse Doucet of BBC News.

Lyse Doucet of BBC News.

It’s especially apparent and visible in the media. While many TV anchors in the U.S. these days look more like young and glamorous aspiring actors … while news veterans 55 and older have been turned out to pasture … BBC News is among the European media organizations that build their reputations on experience. Like Lyse Doucet, the woman who serves as the BBC’s chief international correspondent.  She is a baby boomer like us. That’s just one example. Everywhere you look in Europe’s media, you’ll find audiences listening to people with … yikes … gray hair.

And capitalizing on what baby boomers have to offer goes beyond the media. European carmakers, for example, have found that mentoring programs which team more accomplished boomers with newer workers shortens on-the-job training periods for the new guys and results in a far more skilled and effective workforce as they move into the future.

University of Bamberg blends old with new buildings.

University of Bamberg blends old with new buildings.

In Germany, for example, Bavaria’s University of Bamberg is working actively to give its young students the benefits and knowledge of highly accomplished veterans from a spectrum of industry and government. Why? It’s simple: having those veterans sharing their experience gives active young minds new perspective sand ideas, which gives them an edge for their own career plans.

Sidewalk cafe and gathering place near the University of Bamberg.

Sidewalk cafe and gathering place near the University of Bamberg.

This is not to suggest that baby boomers are not under career fire in Europe the way they are in the United States; it’s just less than in the U.S., where age seems to be arrogantly and rudely dismissed and demeaned. What’s worse, a younger, more self-absorbed and cut-throat generation is proliferating in America’s work environment.

What it comes down to is, Europe has been slower and perhaps smarter than America about throwing its baby boomers “under the bus.”

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