Last month the first baby-boomers turned 60. The bulky generation born between 1946 and 1964 is heading towards retirement. The looming "demographic cliff" will see vast numbers of skilled workers dispatched from the labour force.
The workforce is ageing across the rich world. Within the EU the number of workers aged between 50 and 64 will increase by 25% over the next two decades, while those aged 20-29 will decrease by 20%. In Japan almost 20% of the population is already over 65, the highest share in the world. And in the United States the number of workers aged 55-64 will have increased by more than half in this decade, at the same time as the 35- to 44-year-olds decline by 10%.
Given that most societies are geared to retirement at around 65, companies have a looming problem of knowledge management, of making sure that the boomers do not leave before they have handed over their expertise along with the office keys and their e-mail address. A survey of human-resources directors by IBM last year concluded: "When the baby-boomer generation
retires, many companies will find out too late that a career's worth of experience has walked out the door, leaving insufficient talent to fill in the void."
Some also face a shortage of expertise. In aerospace and defence, for example, as much as 40% of the workforce in some companies will be eligible to retire within the next five years. At the same time, the number of engineering graduates in developed countries is in steep decline.
A few companies are so squeezed that they are already taking exceptional measures. Earlier this year the Los Angeles Times interviewed an enterprising Australian who was staying in Beverly Hills while he tried to persuade locals to emigrate to Toowoomba, Queensland, to work for his engineering company there. Toowoomba today; the rest of the developed world tomorrow?
If you look hard enough, you can find companies that have begun to adapt the workplace to older workers. The AARP, an American association for the over-50s, produces an annual list of the best employers of its members. Health-care firms invariably come near the top because they are one of the industries most in need of skilled labour. Other sectors similarly affected, says the Conference Board, include oil, gas, energy and government.
Near the top of the AARP's latest list comes Deere & Company, a no-nonsense
industrial-equipment manufacturer based in Illinois; about 35% of Deere's 46,000 employees are over 50 and a number of them are in their 70s. The tools it uses to achieve that – flexible working, telecommuting, and so forth - also coincidentaUy help older workers to extend their working lives. The company spends "a lot of time" on the ergonomics of its factories, making jobs there less tiring, which enables older workers to stay at them for longer.
Likewise, for more than a decade, Toyota, arguably the world's most advanced manufacturer, has adapted its workstations to older workers. The shortage of skilled labour available to the automotive industry has made it unusually keen to recruit older workers. BMW recently set up a factory in Leipzig that expressly set out to employ people over the age of 45. Needs must when the devil drives.
Other firms are polishing their alumni networks. IBM uses its network to recruit retired people for particular projects. Ernst & Young, a professional-services firm, has about 30,000 registered alumni, and about 25% of its "experienced" new recruits are former employees who return after an absence.
But such examples are unusual. A survey in America last month by Ernst & Young found that "although corporate America foresees a significant workforce shortage as boomers retire, it is not dealing with the issue." Almost three-quarters of the 1,400 global companies questioned by Deloitte last year said they expected a shortage of salaried staff over the next three to five years. Yet few of them are looking to older workers to fill that shortage; and even fewer are looking to them to fill another gap that has already appeared. Many firms in Europe and America complain that they struggle to find qualified directors for their boards - this when the pool of retired talent from those very same firms is growing by leaps and bounds.
Why are firms not working harder to keep old employees? Part of the reason is that the crunch has been beyond the horizon of most managers. Nor is hanging on to older workers the only way to cope with a falling supply of labour. The participation of developing countries in the world economy has increased the overall supply - whatever the local effect of demographics in the rich countries. A vast amount of work is being sent offshore to such places as China and India and more will go in future. Some countries, such as Australia, are relaxing their immigration policies to allow much needed skills to come in from abroad. Others will avoid theneed for workers by spending money on machinery and automation.
16. According to the passage, the most serious consequence of baby-boomers approachingretirement would be
A. a loss of knowledge and experience to many companies.
B. a decrease in the number of 35- to 44- year-olds.
C. a continuous increase in the number of 50-to 64-year-olds.
D. its impact on the developed world whose workforce is ageing.
17. The following are all the measures that companies have adopted to cope with the ageing workforce EXCEPT
A. making places of work accommodate the needs of older workers.
B. using alumni networks to hire retired former employees.
C. encouraging former employees to work overseas.
D. granting more convenience in working hours to older workers.
18. "The company spends 'a lot of time' on the ergonomics of its factories" (Paragraph Seven) means that
A. the company attaches great importance to the layout of its factories.
B. the company improves the working conditions in its factories.
C. the company attempts to reduce production costs of its factories.
D. the company intends to renovate its factories and update equipment.
19. In the author's opinion American firms are not doing anything to deal with the issue of the ageing workforce mainly because
A. they have not been aware of the problem.
B. they are reluctant to hire older workers.
C. they are not sure of what they should do.
D. they have other options to consider.
20. Which of the following best describes the author's development of argument?
A. introducing the issue---citing ways to deal with the issue---~describing the actual status---offering reasons.
B. describing the actual status--- introducing the issue---citing ways to deal with the issue---offering reasons.
C. citing ways to deal with the issue---introducing the issue----describing the actual status---offering reasons.
D. describing the actual status--offering reasons---introducing the issue---citing ways to deal with the issue.
(1) The other problem that arises from the employment of women is that of the working wife. It has two aspects: that of the wife who is more of a success than her husband and that of the wife who must rely heavily on her husband for help with domestic tasks. There are various ways in which the impact of the first difficulty can be reduced. Provided that husband and wife are not in the same or directly comparable lines of work, the harsh fact of her greater success can be obscured by a genial conspiracy to reject a purely monetary measure of achievement as intolerably crude. Where there are ranks, it is best if the couple work in different fields so that the husband can find some special reason for the superiority of the lowest figure in his to the most elevated in his wife's.
(2) A problem that affects a much larger number of working wives is the need to re-allocate domestic tasks if there are children. In The Road to Wigan Pier George Orwell wrote of the unemployed of the Lancashire coalfields: "Practically never ... in a working-class home, will you see the man doing a stroke of the housework. Unemployment has not changed this convention, which on the face of it seems a little unfair. The man is idle from morning to night but the woman is as busy as ever - more so, indeed, because she has to manage with less money. Yet so far as myexperience goes the women do not protest. They feel that a man would lose his manhood if, merely because he was out of work, he developed in a 'Mary Ann'."
(3) It is over the care of young children that this re-allocation of duties becomes really significant. For this, unlike the cooking of fish fingers or the making of beds, is an inescapably time-consuming occupation, and time is what the fully employed wife has no more to spare of than her husband.
(4) The male initiative in courtship is a pretty indiscriminate affair, something that is tried on with any remotely plausible woman who comes within range and, of course, with all degrees of tentativeness. What decides the issue of whether a genuine courtship is going to get under way is the woman's response. If she shows interest the engines of persuasion are set in movement. The truth is that in courtship society gives women the real power while pretending to give it to men.
(5) What does seem clear is that the more men and women are together, at work and away from it, the more the comprehensive amorousness of men towards women will have to go, despite all its past evolutionary services. For it is this that makes inferiority at work abrasive and, more indirectly, makes domestic work seem unmanly, if there is to be an equalizing redistribution of economic and domestic tasks between men and women there must be a compensating redistribution of the erotic initiative. If women will no longer let us beat them they must allow us to join them as the blushing recipients of flowers and chocolates.
21. Paragraph One advises the working wife who is more successful than her husband to
A. work in the same sort of job as her husband.
B. play down her success, making it sound unimportant.
C. stress how much the family gains from her high salary.
D. introduce more labour-saving machinery into the home.
22. Orwell's picture of relations between man and wife in Wigan Pier (Paragraph Two) describes a relationship which the author of the passage
A. thinks is the natural one.
B. wishes to see preserved.
C. believes is fair.
D. is sure must change.
23. Which of the following words is used literally, NOT metaphorically?
A. Abrasive (Paragraph Five).
B. Engines (Paragraph Four).
C. Convention (Paragraph Two).
D. Heavily (Paragraph One).
24. The last paragraph stresses that if women are to hold important jobs, then they must
A. sometimes make the first advances in love.
B. allow men to flirt with many women.
C. stop accepting presents of flowers and chocolates.
D. avoid making their husbands look like "Mary Anns".
25. Which of the following statements is INCORRECT about the present form of courtship?
A. Men are equally serious about courtship.
B. Each man "makes passes" at many women.
C. The woman's reaction decides the fate of courtship.
D. The man leaves himself the opportunity to give up the chase quickly.