Employers urged to hire one million extra over-50s


Government says shortage of younger entrants to labour market – and possible effects of Brexit – could lead to talent crunch.


Cipid reports that the government is encouraging employers to actively recruit older workers to avoid a drastic future talent shortage that could be exacerbated by Brexit.

One million over-50s will need to be brought into active employment over the next five years, according to Andy Briggs, CEO of Aviva Life and the government’s business champion for older workers. He said every UK employer should increase the number of workers aged 50-69 in their workforce by 12 per cent before 2022, as a way of helping address the skills gap, tackle age bias in the workplace and enable older people to work for longer.

According to Business in the Community (BITC) – whose age at work leadership team Briggs chairs – pre-Brexit estimates had already suggested there were far fewer younger people entering the workforce than those retiring: “Between 2012 and 2022, 14 million jobs will be opened up through people leaving the workforce and new jobs being created, yet only seven million new younger people will enter the workforce to fill these jobs.

“Employers are already facing labour shortages, particularly in the care sector. If immigration is reduced through Brexit, there will be an even bigger imperative to get a million more older people in work.”

The employment rate for those aged 50-69 is currently 59 per cent, but Briggs said this must increase to 66 per cent. According to BITC, if the employment rate of those aged 50-64 matched that of those aged 35-49, it would add 5 per cent to UK GDP, the equivalent of £88bn.

Briggs said: “One million more older people in work by 2022 is an ambitious yet necessary target. There are 15 million people of this age group in the labour market, yet only nine million are in work.” He said the target was achievable if employers committed to taking “an honest and sustained approach to understanding age bias in their organisations. “We live in an ageing society so it is critical that people are able to work for as long as they need and want to, and there are overwhelming benefits for both employers and employees,” said Briggs. “Many people aged over 50 want to continue to develop their careers, learn new skills, try new things and also share their broad knowledge and experience. This is good for everyone, and particularly for employers and their businesses who will benefit from drawing on the talent, creativity and experience of all of their employees, regardless of their age.”

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, added: “By 2022, more than one in three workers will be over 50. Employment rates for this age group have been growing, but they remain much lower than for younger people, with a rapid falling off after the age of 55. Increasing the numbers of people over 50 in fulfilling work is good for society, good for business and most importantly good for people themselves.”

Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “Employer action needs to be underpinned by a deep level of understanding around strategic workforce planning. They need to appreciate why people choose to stay or leave work after 50, in order to be able to engage with them and make the most of their knowledge and experience. This is about creating fulfilling working lives not just longer ones. At 50, many workers are at the top of their game, sitting on a wealth of knowledge and vital experience -the challenge is how to effectively retain and engage staff.” The call by Briggs comes days after the government launched its Fuller Working Lives strategy. A key part of the ‘retain, retrain and recruit’ approach is encouraging older people to take part in apprenticeship schemes following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

According to the report, published by the Department for Work and Pensions, a focus on training and development and active career planning is crucial to older workers remaining competitive in the workplace. The introduction of the levy in April, it said, would be billed as “an all-age programme”. “Apprenticeships are a crucial way of addressing skills gaps and are available to people of all ages,” said the report. While older people do currently access apprenticeships, the numbers of those doing so drops off after 60. In 2015-16, more than 57,700 (11.3 per cent) of those starting an apprenticeship were aged 45-59 and 3,500 were 60 or over. “The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017 will put control of funding into the hands of employers. It will also encourage employers to invest in their apprentices and set up more apprenticeship opportunities, including ones that are attractive for older people,” said the report.

(Article source: Cipid)

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