Its crunch time for Britain’s workforce as employers need to value older workers more, according to CIPD

older workforce

The increasing number of people living longer coupled with fewer younger people entering the labour market, means that Britain’s employers are facing a skills shortage. They are more reliant on the skills and talents of the older workforce in order to boost productivity.  

New research by the CIPD has found that the UK’s policy for supporting older worker is better developed in comparison to other European countries. It revealed that approximately 30% of the UK workforce is currently over 50 so the CIPD is urging employers to support these employees now.

At a briefing last week, Rachel Suff, policy advisor at CIPD discussed some of the key statistics they found. According to the report, the number of people aged 65 and over will increase by 50% in England by 2030. Likewise, the number of people aged 85 and over will double.

Suff said: “The aging population is one of the biggest shifts affecting in the workplace right now and the impact will only increase in the years to come. The effects of that will impact on our workplace, our social systems and our society today.

“Our research found that a large number of older workers feel they can benefit from working longer. The added social stimulation, experience from work and social interaction – for the past few years, we have seen a lot more people staying in work.”

The research looked at the major areas that employers and businesses need to consider when trying to support older workers. Suff explained that care responsibilities was an important factor as “of course the natural consequence of people living longer is that they are more likely to develop chronic symptoms.” It became apparent that often employees are struggling to balance their work and care responsibilities.

She added: “In the UK we do have the right for flexible working [to aid this issue] but I think there’s a need to train employers and line managers more. It needs to be a more visible issue.”

The life expectancy of people is increasing and since 1980, those aged 65 and over have increased life expectancy by 6 years. Minister for Pensions, Baroness Ros Altman said: “There isn’t enough being done. Training for line managers is essential to understand that older people are not those leaving the workforce but are resources. The Government should do more to incentivise employers to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

“Employers should take advantage of the skills and experience that older workers can bring to the workplace. This is why we are developing an employer-led strategy with some of the UK’s biggest employers to ensure older workers get the support they need to be able to enjoy fuller working lives.”

The CIPD event highlighted the need to overcome ageism and increase flexibility and age diversity. Concluding her speech, Baroness Altman said: “Reaching 50 is the beginning of your second half of life. It is not the end of it.”