The American workforce is at a pivotal moment, as more baby boomers move into retirement and younger generations of workers step up to take their place. Companies from all industries are now facing this challenge, and smart business leaders are planning ahead to smooth the transition, preserve institutional knowledge, and train up-and-coming leaders.

Forbes Coaches Council featured a roundup of advice from its members, top business and career coaches, on how to navigate this handover ­– and many of the recommendations are addressed by apprenticeships. High-tech manufacturing companies are already facing a skills shortage in the coming years, and this generational shift is only one factor to consider.

Here’s some of the guidance that members of Forbes Coaches Council offered to companies that want to develop their next generation of leaders, and how it can be applied to investing in apprenticeship programs like ICATT.

Don’t Wait To Start

“It is imperative that companies look to the next generation for ways to merge technology, soft skills and the new ideas necessary to seamlessly keep the organization afloat and profitable.” –

Kenneth Johnson, East Coast Executives

Now is the time to start training younger workers – before your skilled technicians retire and take their knowledge with them. Apprenticeship programs offer a structured way to pass along this expertise to the next generation.

Develop A Buy-And-Build Strategy

“Determine where you need to buy talent in the short term and where you can build talent in the long-term. Leverage the new talent you buy to build a future pipeline in your organization.” – Amy Douglas, Spark Coaching, LLC

A pipeline of talent is precisely what apprenticeships are designed to create. By educating, nurturing, and mentoring younger workers, manufacturing companies invest in the future of their employees – and their employees return the favor.

Train Senior Leaders How To Effectively Coach And Mentor 

“Coaching and mentoring are the key to developing the next generation, but there is a gap between desire and knowledge. Most senior leaders want to create a succession plan that includes coaching and mentoring, but when they are honest, they don’t know how.” – Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC

High-tech companies are made up of knowledgeable employees, but doing and teaching are distinct skills. Leaders need training to be able to help others learn. The ICATT Apprenticeship Program developed the Train the Trainer Seminar to solve this common challenge.

Encourage Collaboration

“Create a professional development program to educate new leaders and share organizational knowledge. Encourage cross-generational relationships with formal mentoring programs and skills-based volunteer opportunities.” – Meredith Moore Crosby, Leverette Weekes

Organizations are able to grow and thrive when younger employees are regularly exposed to diverse experiences, skills, and perspectives. ICATT encourages apprentices to do rotations in all departments of a company, not just their “home” department, so they can build relationships and try a variety of responsibilities.

Leverage The Success Of Mentoring

“Pair baby boomers who have the time and inclination with high potentials. Create program guidelines and train both mentors and mentees. Curate topics to focus their discussions and maximize their time together. Monitor program results.” – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

When you design a program thoughtfully, with specific goals and metrics in mind, mentors and mentees get the most out of their time working together. Apprenticeships are organized around the knowledge mentors have and mentees need, and the experienced employees guide apprentices toward success.

Cultivate Multi-Generational Training Programs

“A development program can be a great way to bridge the leadership gap between the boomers and the younger generation. This will ensure boomers’ skill set and knowledge is transferred to millennials.” – Dr. Corinthia Price, WorkforceCareerReadiness™

A multi-generational training program that bridges the leadership gap is an apprenticeship program. It is designed to share valuable employees’ knowledge and experience with new generations of workers.

Learn more about the benefits of the ICATT Apprenticeship Program.