Older workers’ employment champion appointed to challenge age perceptions

Following the Government’s publication last month of Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action, which set out the benefits to individuals, business and the economy as a whole of people aged over 50 staying in work; economist, policy expert and consumer champion Dr Ros Altmann CBE has been appointed by the Government as its new Business Champion for Older Workers. Dr Altmann – a former director-general of Saga and independent expert on later life issues – will be tasked with making the case for older workers within the business community and challenging outdated perceptions. In the next 10 years, there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16-49 in the UK labour market but 3.7m more people aged between 50 and state pension age. The Government believes employers need to harness the benefits of taking on older staff, as too many continue to believe they can rely solely on a young workforce.

There are currently around 2.9m people aged between 50 and state pension age out of work in the UK. While the UK employment rate for this age group is around 60 per cent and growing, many other countries achieve rates of around 70 per cent or higher – so there is clearly significant potential for more older people to participate in the labour market for longer.

Dr Ros Altmann said: “I am so pleased that the Government has shown it recognises the importance of encouraging people to stay in the labour market, rather than giving up before they need to. This will bring benefits all round – to individuals, to business and to the economy as a whole.  A big part of my role is to work with employers to understand the significant benefits of retaining and recruiting older workers.

“I am really proud to be taking on this new role and look forward to championing over 50s in the workplace. This fast-growing section of society has so much experience and talent to offer and could play a vital role in future growth.

“Everyone can benefit from ensuring their skills do not go to waste. I also look forward to challenging some of the outdated and downright inaccurate perceptions of later life workers who still have so much to offer.”

Fuller Working Lives: A Framework For Action can be downloaded here.