Still inequalities, despite more over 50s in work than ever before 0

Employers that focus only on keeping a generation of younger workers happy are ignoring the fact that an increasing proportion of the UK working population is getting older. The latest Government figures reveal that there are now more people aged 50 to 74 in work than ever before. According to Labour Force Survey statistics there are now 9.4 million people in work aged 50 to 74, with 3.7 million more in this age bracket than there were 20 years ago. The figures also show the unemployment rate for people aged over 50 has dropped to 3.3 percent, the lowest level since 2009, and there are over 1.1 million people working beyond age 65. Legislation to end the retirement age and allow more flexible contracts, have, argues the Government contributed to a more positive attitude towards older workers. However, according to the Centre for Ageing Better, many over 50s are still being forced out of work or offered fewer working hours than they’d requested.

Said Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better: “While the employment rate for over 50s shows positive signs of growth, the averages mask inequalities, with many people facing barriers to the labour market or working fewer hours than they would like. Too many people over the age of 50 are pushed out of work, through redundancy, ill health, or because they need to balance work and care.

“Part time work and self-employment are a growing trend for many older workers. While this can provide flexible and fulfilling work for many people, for others it is the result of a lack of choice of other types of employment.

“The benefits of work are important – it gives meaning and purpose, provides social contact and keeps us active. We need to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have control over where, when and how they work in later life.”

More farsighted businesses already recognise the value of older workers. For example, Barclays’ ‘Bolder Apprentices’ scheme creates opportunities for people wanting to start a new career in later life and other companies such as hospitality firm Whitbread, are seeking the skills and knowledge of older workers.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: “It is clear that people over 50 aren’t slowing down or getting ready for retirement. I want to see businesses supporting this momentum while also reaping the benefits of the skills and expertise these older people can bring to the workplace.

“People in later life are increasingly looking to stay in work and it is important that more businesses look for ways to support them.”