I am an optimist: Old foggies and Baby Boomers – those over 50 years old – will be an important part of the On-Demand Workforce in the coming years. Even though this group already plans to continue to work out of necessity (AARP says four out of 10 baby boomers plan to work in retirement), they will be an important part of the on-demand workforce. Some companies will require their skills and experience and others, especially the smart ones, will want their wisdom and knowledge. For example, they will want them to mentor younger works. This is what Google is doing; some groups are hiring older workers to mentor to the freshly minted MBAs and BAs, who are smart, have lots of energy, but don’t have any scars or scabs from working in the trenches.
As the chart below indicates, even though some of these grey haired foxes might be slower to adopt new technology, but companies can hardly ignore their numbers. The 55+ segment is significantly larger that 18-24 or 25-34 years old groups. The challenge, however, is to quickly help them master Smartphone and On-Demand technology, so they can keep up to speed with the younger whipper snappers around them. They can accomplish this by attending online courses (MOOCs) or by just teaching themselves online.
This Pepsi Generation (the 50-70 crowd) can’t take this need for granted. They will need to learn how to use these on-demand technologies, which will include Uber, Nest and eventually Self-Driving. To be an effective On-Demand Worker, they will have to embrace the Internet of Things. Yes, I know that they are not novices when it comes to technology. Still, however, they need to remember it’s a game of the Survival of the Techeist. While email usage and cell phone ownership by nearly all adults is relatively high, smartphone ownership of older boomers (age 57 to 65) is two-thirds of that younger boomers (47 to 56) and one-third that of millennials. The same goes for iPod and tablet (iPad) usage.
If you are over 50 and want to be a freelancer, you need to make the investment to learn how to handle your smart phone in one hand, learn how to use at least four different apps, and reach out to a Gen Yer and asked to be tutored in the latest and greatest mobile / internet of things. Otherwise, it will take a while to jump start your second career.