Over 50s have highest rate of long term unemployment

Over 50s have highest rate of long term unemploymentMore than a million people over 50 have been pushed out of the workplace a new report from The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) has revealed. Up to 1.5 million people aged 50-69 “involuntarily” left employment over the last eight years due to a combination of redundancy, ill health or “forced” early retirement. Of these, 1.1 million people would be willing to work. Yet if the employment rate of this 50–64 age group matched that of the 35–49 age group, it would boost UK GDP by £88 billion (5.6%). The report: ‘The missing million: illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50s’ was produced by PRIME, now part of Business in the Community, in collaboration with The International Longevity Centre (ILC), the leading think tank on longevity and demographic change. The report explores the employment challenges facing older workers and calls for urgent action from policy makers and employers to ensure that people over 50 remain in the labour market, for example through flexible working and retraining.

There are currently 3.3 million economically inactive people aged between 50 and 64 in the UK, and the over 50s have a higher rate of long term unemployment than any other age group; but the UK population is ageing and unless measures are taken to support working longer, the size of the UK’s workforce is likely to flat-line says the report.

Over the next ten years, there will be nearly twice as many job vacancies needing to be filled as there are young school- and college-leavers. Older workers will be needed in order to avoid a labour shortage and skills gap. A higher proportion of older workers does not “crowd out” the labour market for younger workers. In fact, higher employment for older workers is associated with higher employment for younger workers as well.

The report also warns that leaving the workforce early means a loss in earnings and pension contributions, with serious effects on individual health and wellbeing. This could also lead to more public spending on areas such as health care and adult social care.

The report makes a number of recommendations for both business and Government, in particular calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to continue their work on the Fuller Working Lives framework.

Alongside PRIME’s existing work on enterprise, Business in the Community is committed to a new strand of work looking at extending working lives and making the most of intergenerational workplaces.

Baroness Greengross, ILC-UK Chief Executive said: “The case for working longer has never been stronger. Extending working lives is essential for delivering economic growth, maintaining a sustainable and vibrant business sector and harnessing the potential and capacity of the older worker.”

The full report can be found on the PRIME website.