What happens with the competent retire, burn out or opt out? It's a question few bother to ask because the base assumption is that there is an essentially limitless pool of competent people who can be tapped or trained to replace those who retire, burn out or opt out, i.e. quit in favor of a lifestyle that doesn't require much in the way of income or stress.
These assumptions are no longer valid. A great many essential services that are tightly bound to other essential services are cracking as the competent decide (or realize) they're done with the rat-race.
The drivers of the Competent Opting Out are obvious yet difficult to quantify. Those retiring, burning out and opting out will deny they're leaving for these reasons because it's not politic to be so honest and direct. They will offer time-honored dodges such as "pursue other opportunities" or "family obligations."
1. The steady increase in workloads, paperwork, compliance and make-work (i.e. work that has nothing to do with the institution's actual purpose and mission) that lead to burnout. There is only so much we can accomplish, and if we're burdened with ever-increasing demands for paperwork, compliance, useless meetings, training sessions, etc., then we no longer have the time or energy to perform our productive work.