BITC urges business and government to help older people stay in work

Business and government need to urgently address problems surrounding over-50s employment to avoid a “talent gap”, Business in the Community (BITC) has stated.

BITC’s Missing Millions report calls for a “long-term, strategic approach to recruiting and retaining older workers”. It says more than one million older people who want to work have been forced out of employment, often due to factors such as ill health or redundancy.

BITC is also calling for government and business leaders to develop policies that support the 1.1 million people in the UK working beyond state pension age.

BITC Age at Work director Rachael Saunders said the UK is facing a “recruitment black hole of 7.5 million”.

She added: “By 2022 12.5 million new jobs will open up as people leave the workforce, and an additional two million new jobs will be created, yet there will only be seven million younger people to fill these vacancies.

“It is dangerous for our economic sustainability to assume that young people alone make up the future workforce. If we don’t act now to encourage and enable people to stay in work for longer, we will face a deficit of experienced, skilled and productive workers when we need them most.”

The Missing Millions report, the third in a series, makes a series of recommendations for employers and government.

Recommendations for employers include:

  • Addressing barriers to recruitment of older workers through unconscious bias training and opening up apprenticeships to older people
  • Innovating around agile working, job design and tailored benefits
  • Adapting training and development for an age-diverse workforce
  • Introducing midlife career reviews
  • Training line managers in providing the right support to employees at all life stages

Recommendations for government include:

Commenting on the report, Aviva managing director, workplace & intermediary business Colin Williams said: “The first person who will live to 150 has already been born and, in the near future, it will be the norm for people to work well into their sixties or even seventies to fund their own retirement."

He added: "It is therefore crucial that we change the nature of employment now and address barriers to recruitment and retention, to ensure that working in later life is both possible and, importantly, fulfilling in the future.”