March 16, 2015
The Government has published a new report which describes the challenges faced by the UK’s over 50s in the workplace and sets out ways in which more of them can stay or move into work. The report is the culmination of eight months’ work by a team led by the Government’s ‘ageism tsar’ Ros Altmann and highlights why action is needed based primarily on the twin issues of demographic change and increasing life expectancy. The report, Retain, Retrain, Recruit, recommends action that would help older workers thrive and ensure individuals, industry and the economy can reap the financial and social benefits of a multi generational workplace. The report outlines how businesses could recruit more older workers, retrain existing staff and provide greater flexibility to retain them as well as setting out measures that should be taken to reflect the multi generational workforce in the media and policy making.
The report’s authors claim that if just half the 1.2 million older workers who are currently unemployed or inactive and would like to work were to move into employment this could boost GDP up to £25 billion a year. The report also highlights that while there remains a lot of talk about the impact of Gen Y on the workplace, by 2022 there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16 to 49 in the UK workforce but 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and state pension age.
The main recommendations of the report are:
- Develop a cross-government strategy on older workers, including a national strategy to address skills gaps, mid-life career reviews and particularly apprenticeships for older workers.
- A research programme to quantify the benefits and communications campaign targeting both employers and individuals to explain the value of fuller working lives, identifying the economic and business case, the barriers, solutions, and the support available for all.
- An age and skills audit for employers – including monitoring and guarding against age bias in recruitment practices – to manage knowledge and experience in your business.
- Better training to effectively manage older workers, promoting options such as flexible working, family crisis leave and menopause awareness.
- Rethink your later life: don’t write yourself off – and top tips to find work.
For the media
- Media action to promote positive language, stories and updated images of older workers.
- Make greater use of older presenters.
Dr Ros Altmann said “The need to retain, retrain and recruit workers over 50 is becoming increasingly important as the population changes and people live longer. I have set out to challenge outdated stereotypes, unconscious bias and age discrimination, which all contribute to preventing older people from staying in or returning to work. There are many ways we can tackle this – which I have addressed in my report – including apprenticeships for those over 50, flexible working and better training for line-managers. Acting upon my recommendations will bring benefits to us all.
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said: “Beyond the age of 50, people start falling out of the workplace at dramatic rates – but there is a compelling economic and business case for overcoming these obstacles to access this vast untapped talent in the UK labour market. The government has made a good start by abolishing the default retirement age and extending the right to request flexible working. But it is clear that old-fashioned and outdated perceptions still persist. From next month, we will be trialling targeted and intensive support for older jobseekers, including rolling out an ‘older workers’ champion scheme across every part of the UK, and we are seeing more firms open apprenticeships up for people of all ages.”