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A million more workers aged over 65 than in 2000

Older workers are becoming increasingly important to filling skills shortages, according to the Centre for Ageing Better

The number of over-65s in the workforce has risen by almost a million people since the turn of the millennium, according to new analysis from charity the Centre for Ageing Better.

More than one in nine (12%) worked past their 65th birthday in January to April 2023, which is more than double the number working in 2000 (5%), according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Karen Hancock, research and policy officer at the Centre for Ageing Better, said older workers are increasingly important to filling skills shortages.

She said: “These figures show once again the ever-growing importance of older workers to the economy in filling labour and skills shortages.

“Workers with up to 50 years’ of workplace experience have an incredible wealth of knowledge to share and which will be to the benefit of employers, co-workers and customers.”

Workers aged 65 and above are mainly self-employed and working part-time, but there is a growing number continuing in full-time employment up to and beyond the state pension age.

Read more: Retention of over-50s rises up employers' agenda

Approximately 80,000 workers 65 and above were on zero-hours contracts between January and April this year, the second highest age group after 16-24-year-olds.

Around half of the substantial growth in numbers of 65-plus workers since 2000 is down to demographics and the growth in the older population, Hancock said.

She added: “The raising of the state pension age for men and women has also been a factor in increasing employment rates. Moving the goalposts on planned retirement dates may have compelled some to continue working into their late 60s to help their financial situation.

“But the increase also includes a growth in older workers who feel well enough to continue working and who want to continue reaping the financial and wellbeing benefits of remaining in work.”

Read more: Surge in over-60s candidates as cost of living bites

Speaking to HR magazine, Jackie Handy, managing director of inclusion consultancy Runway Global, warned HR to not overlook older workers.

She said: “Managers will need to avoid a one-size-fits-all-approach to benefits offered, to create an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

“Older workers also need their employer to treat them as a valuable worker, with ongoing feedback, training and support to do their best work. It shouldn’t be assumed that an older worker does not want to progress in their role.

“When managed well, your older employees can prove to be highly skilled, loyal and valuable members of your employee workforce; don’t throw them on the scrapheap.”