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Friday, 6 December

Not too Old to be Forgotten

A major new report has been published setting out ways to help more over 50s stay in or move into work.

The culmination of 8 months’ work, the report by Ros Altmann highlights why action is needed, setting out the issues of demographic change and increasing life expectancy.

It also recommends action that the government, business and the media should take to help older workers to thrive and ensure individuals, industry and the overall economy can reap the financial and social benefits.

Altmann outlines the ‘3 Rs’ of ‘Retain, Retrain, Recruit’, helping business to recruit more older workers, retrain existing staff as their careers develop and provide flexibility to retain staff as well as setting out specific measures that should be taken to make UK workforces more age diverse.

If 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 by up to £25 billion a year.

“The need to retain, retrain and recruit workers over 50 is becoming increasingly important as the population changes and people live longer,” she argued. “I have set out to challenge outdated stereotypes, unconscious bias and age discrimination, which all contribute to preventing older people from staying in or returning to work.”

Altmann stated that there were many ways to address the problem, including apprenticeships for those over 50, flexible working and better training for line-managers.

Altmann was appointed to her government adviser role by Pensions Minister Steve Webb in July 2014.

“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,” he stated. “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 But it is clear that old-fashioned and outdated perceptions still persist.”

The report recommends for government:

  • Development of 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.

For business

  • 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.

TWinFM will be looking at the subject of the menopause in the workplace in our next Spotlight.

Picture: “The need to retain, retrain and recruit workers over 50 is becoming increasingly important…” – Ros Altmann.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis

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