Office of Continuing Education

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July 13th, 2019

Many companies are realizing the potential for institutional knowledge loss as older generations retire. Ten thousand people reach retirement age every day, which can mean that a large amount of institutional knowledge has the potential to be lost. Continuing education can help with the transfer of institutional knowledge by providing structure and intentionality to make sure that it happens.

The Impact of Generational Knowledge Loss

When generational knowledge transfer doesn’t occur, it can impact the work force in both subtle and dramatic ways. Whether it’s an ongoing struggle to train new workers to be productive and contribute to workplace success or a slow increase in employee turnover caused by the disconnect between knowledge and ability, workplaces are feeling the loss of knowledge transfer.

Because so much institutional knowledge is maintained solely in the minds of the people who possess it, it’s not easy to measure. Yet its value can be immense. Organizations have histories — some of them long and multilayered. Fortunately, many organizations are realizing the importance of maintaining and sharing much of that hard-earned wisdom.

Many employees do not even realize that their struggles are tied to generational knowledge transfer, or more accurately, its lack. When companies realize that this loss is occurring, they can make it right using a variety of methods including mentorships, intentional relationship-building across generations, and formalized continuing education.

Group of people in business attire standing with arms crossed smiling.

When the older generation passes on knowledge to co-workers before retirement, the entire company benefits.

Stopping Generational Knowledge Loss With Continuing Education

As Baby Boomers age, many of them are retiring, but some remain in the work force long after retirement age. One way to prevent the loss of generational knowledge may be to have these older workers teach courses that will pass their knowledge on to the next generation. Even some already-retired Boomers may be willing to teach courses that will pass down generational knowledge as a service to their industry.

While mentorship programs and on-site training are great opportunities for generational knowledge transfer, continuing education courses can allow for larger amounts of knowledge to be passed on to a new generation and can do so in a more systematic and goal-oriented way than some of these more informal methods. Because of the structure of continuing education courses, it only makes sense that this could be a more effective way to transfer generational knowledge.

Another potential issue with mentorships and other work relationships is that it can be hard to connect in an ongoing way when different generations have different preferred communication methods. Millennials and Generation Z generally prefer to communicate by texting or social media, while Baby Boomers and Generation X still prefer email for their communication. Taking a continuing education course bypasses these difficulties and puts everyone on the same page.

CCSU offers continuing education courses including some that are focused on intentional generational knowledge transfer like this one. For more information on all the courses we offer, view our open courses.