Employers will increasingly need to find older workers to fill job vacancies, finds CIPD/Scottish Centre for Healthy Lives

David Woods , 12 Mar 2012

older worker

Older workers are needed to help the UK remedy the challenges of a future employment gap, according to the CIPD.

The organisation has predicted UK employers will need to fill an estimated 13.5 million job vacancies in the next 10 years, but only 7 million young people will leave education over this period. Employers will increasingly need to rely on older workers to fill these vacancies.

New guidance from the CIPD Managing a healthy ageing workforce: A national business imperative, produced in collaboration with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, stresses the need for employers to act now, or risk the consequences. Research shows the age of the UK population is predicted to grow: by 2020, 36% of the working population will be aged over 504. And the number of people aged 90 and above will triple by 2035. Although some employers have begun to manage the issues associated with an ageing workforce, for those who have yet to make headway the main barrier appears to be a lack of expertise and awareness around these changing demographics.

This guide is designed to trigger action from employers and older workers themselves. It focuses on three steps to managing an ageing workforce: building a business case, addressing issues of perception and developing talent management. Employers will benefit from the clear practical support on offer and together build on the value to be gained from older workers.

Dianah Worman, diversity adviser, CIPD, said: "Organisations that respond appropriately to the challenges of an ageing workforce will gain a significant competitive edge, both in terms of recruiting and retaining talent, but also through supporting the well-being and engagement of employees of all ages. The business case for older workers is strong and research shows their impact and experience within the organisation enables better customer service, enhanced knowledge retention and can help to address talent and skills shortages. All of this will help to guard against potential age discrimination claims, thereby mitigating damage to the brand and any associated costs. With the removal of the Default Retirement Age last October, employers are freed up to adapt their workforce to the labour needs of the market.

"CIPD research shows that older workers are increasingly looking to extend their working lives, with more than 50% of workers aged over 55 planning to work beyond the previous state retirement age. Although financial reasons play a key factor, many older workers also wish to continue using their skills and experience and enjoy the social interaction they experience in the workplace."


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Combining experience and youth

Roger Moore, General Manager, Bond Teamspirit 13 Mar 2012

The article above simply highlights the fact that experience versus youth has always been a much debated topic when it comes to the workplace. Common sense tells us that a mix of both is the best formula for success, with younger workers learning from more senior colleagues. The attitude to older workers in the UK though means that neither the mindset or structures exist to ensure this happens as often or as effectively as it should. Moreover, there is still a lack of recognition of the value that older workers and their experience bring to the workplace. Employers must find ways of engaging older workers so they remain happy and therefore productive in the workforce rather than feeling they are merely killing time waiting for retirement age. And they must find ways of transferring their knowledge and the benefit of their experience to younger workers. Conveniently, the latter will help promote the former. One of the keys to employee engagement is making people feel valued. Showing that the organisation needs to preserve their knowledge in the long term demonstrates this in abundance. Intra-company training programmes and cascading information and experience from the older workers is also one of the most cost-effective ways to increase productivity and improve performance. This is of particular importance in industries such as manufacturing where experience and prior knowledge can reduce time taken to complete tasks and improve results.

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