CIPD urges employers to value older workers

A new study launched by the CIPD today reveals that the UK could face serious skills shortages over the next 20 years if employers don’t change their approach to workforce planning.

As a result, the CIPD is urging organisations across all sectors to take steps now to reap the benefits of a more age diverse workforce, rather than fall victim to a mass exodus of skills as their workforce ages.

The research, done in conjunction with the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK), shows, there are currently 9.4 million workers in the UK today who are over the age of 502 and while the employment rate of older workers has increased significantly in recent years, there is still a 64% drop in the employment rate between the ages of 53 and 67.

Unless organisations start improving how they recruit, develop and retain older workers it is estimated that the UK economy will struggle to fill one million jobs by 2035 even taking into account the mitigating effect of migrant workers.

The health and social work, education and public administration sectors are most at risk of skills shortages. This is because they are not only highly reliant on older workers (around a third or more of their workforces are over 50), but also struggle more than other sectors to remain attractive places to work for older workers.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, said: “2035 may sound far off but the reality is that organisations need to get to grips with the ageing workforce challenge today or face skills shortages that will affect their ability to grow or deliver key services in the very near future. Not enough organisations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even know enough about the make-up of their workforce.

“Employers need to recognise the value that older workers can bring to their organisation when recruiting new staff, continue to invest in people’s training and development at different stages of their careers and think about how they can transfer older workers’ knowledge to other parts of the business when they do retire.”

The report outlines five essential components that should form an organisation’s strategy to address the aging workforce challenges:
1. Ensuring they have inclusive recruitment practices
2. Improving the capability of line managers
3. Investing in training and development
4. Supporting employee health and wellbeing
5. Moving towards more flexible working

Minister for Pensions, Ros Altmann, said: “Employers need to realise what they stand to lose if they fail to give opportunities to older staff. Not only could they miss out on the wealth of experience that having a diverse workforce can offer, but they also risk losing a large chunk of their workers – and valuable skills – over a short period of time, as this study shows.

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