A maturing workforce

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

AGEISM is a subject we come back to time and time again in this column and we, make no apology for that.

There is no excuse for ageist attitudes in our society, never has been and never will be, particularly as we approach a time when the over 50-year-olds in society outnumber the under 50-year-olds.

Looking ahead it will mean that the grey pound and the grey pound spenders will have the upper hand not just numerically, but economically and that is going to mean a few adjustments.

This year, 2020, a third of the UK workforce will be 50 plus and that figure is projected to grow at a terrific rate over the next decade or so.

The biggest growth area in the next few years in terms of employment will be in workers aged 65-years and older, a strange thought when you consider that until recently most men retired at 65 and most women at 60-years-old.

But all that changed and now the majority of men and women cannot look forward to retiring until they are at least 67-years-old and there are rumblings that it the pension age will move again.

In the next ten years,  those aged 65 and over will be responsible for more than half of all employment growth and almost two-thirds of employment growth by 2060.

Ageism in the workplace, will by default have to become a thing of the past or hundreds of thousands of jobs will go unfilled as new statistics show that by 2030 people aged 65 years and over will make up 282,000 new UK employees out of a total of 546,000.

Thirty years later, the baby boomers will swell the numbers of new employees aged over 65 to 746,000 out of a total employment growth of 1,193,000 and who knows what the pensionable age will be by then.

However, whilst there has been a rapid improvement of the health of older people in recent years with the average life span increasing significantly that is starting to level out at 79.2 years for men and 82.9 years for women which gives us an idea of what we are planning for.

What it does mean is that many more people will continue to work for longer some because economic reality means that they have to, others because they want to and it might be in a completely different career to that pursued in earlier life.

A handful of employers have cottoned onto the fact that a more mature workforce is their advantage and big firms like B&Q have long made good use of the knowledge and experience that age brings.

The list of age positive employers is growing as forward looking companies recognise the need to get older people on board – companies such as the Co-op are at the forefront with other big names such as Lloyds Banking and Booker, First Group and O2 all in the mix.

Other companies have adjusted their contracts to take into account that not everyone wants to work 37.5hours a week in later life, but they do want to work and they do have a lot to give.

A national website called Rest Less provides jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over 50s and discussions are also taking place locally to look at ways that enterprising entrepreneurs can help facilitate this growing sector.

Stuart Lewis, the Founder of Rest Less summed it up “Our population is growing and people are living longer, healthier lives. Today’s over 65s are healthier and more active than previous generations and many who are fit and able to work tell us that they have no intention of fully retiring any time soon.

“People’s reasons for continuing to work post-state pension age vary wildly, from those who are choosing to top up their pension pots whilst they still can, to those who want to keep working for the love of the job, or for the health and wellbeing benefits.

 “Increasing numbers of over 65s in the workplace unlocks enormous potential for employers to embrace a talented, flexible and highly skilled workforce – but it also requires many employers to change their outdated stereotypes of age in the workplace and reconsider how they engage with and attract talented older employees.”

Or put another way rethink your ageist stereotypes and take advantage of the wealth of talent, expertise and knowledge that is just waiting to be tapped. Get the right age balance in your workforce and you have a heady mix of energy and experience.