Report calls for urgent changes to help over 50s stay in work for longer

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Written on 24 April 2015 in News
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Recommendations made to employers on how to drive change needed to encourage people to continue working into later life include implementing unconscious bias training for those involved in recruitment; widening apprenticeships to the over-50s; introducing flexible benefits and adapting training and development opportunities to people of different ages

Business in the Community's (BITC) Age at Work campaign has published the third Missing Million report, giving recommendations for action by business and government to address the barriers to employment for older workers.

Launched during Responsible Business Week, The Missing Million: Recommendations for Action, highlights that more than a million over-50s who want to work but have been forced out of employment due to factors such as health problems or redundancy. Barriers such as age-related bias and poor understanding of the needs of older workers are preventing many from staying in employment and finding new jobs.

The new report includes recommendations for business and government, informed through research undertaken with the International Longevity Centre UK and consultation across different industry sectors. Amongst the measures it calls for are:

  • giving employees the legal right to request flexible working prior to starting a new job, rather than after 26 weeks of work;
  • paid leave for carers,
  • the introduction of a national skills strategy, including IT training,
  • better integration of health and social care services with employment.  

The UK is faced with an ageing population, with the number of people over 65 years old set to almost double from 10 million to around 19 million by 2050. To enable the government to pay for an ageing economy, the state pension age (SPA) is projected to rise in line with life expectancy, with many of us likely to be working up until the age of 70 and beyond.  

Additionally, a looming jobs gap means that developing a long-term strategic approach to recruiting and retaining older workers will be crucial for business. Between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 12.5 million jobs will be opened up through people leaving the workforce and an additional two million new jobs will be created, yet only seven million new younger people will enter the workforce to fill these jobs.

Recommendations made to employers on how to drive change needed to encourage people to continue working into later life include implementing unconscious bias training for those involved in recruitment; widening apprenticeships to the over-50s; introducing flexible benefits and adapting training and development opportunities to people of different ages.

By 2022, 12.5 million new jobs will open up as people leave the workforce, and an additional two million new jobs will be created, yet there will only be 7 million younger people to fill these vacancies. We are facing a recruitment black hole of 7.5 million,” Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director, Business in the Community, said.

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