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Employers must help upskill older workers

Most workers in their 50s have not received any computer training

Employers must do more to train and upskill older workers and prepare them for the digital economy, according to a report from Business in the Community (BITC), supported by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The survey of nearly 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, found that 62% of workers in their 50s had not received any training in computer skills.

Older employees reported feeling less encouraged by their employer to take up training opportunities. While 25% of employees aged 50 to 59 and 22% of those aged 60 to 69 felt their employer wanted them to take up learning and development opportunities, 44% of 18- to 39-year-olds and 32% of 40- to 49-year-olds felt the same.

The report, The Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era, recommended that employers support older workers to be 'digital adopters', ensuring that development and work opportunities are accessible to them.

Jenny Lincoln, age research and policy manager for Business in the Community, warned that employers need to start considering training for older workers. "Too few older workers are getting the training and information they need to prepare for increased automation and technology in the world of work,” she said. “With a rising retirement age, and fewer young people entering the workforce, it’s vital that employers invest in training older workers so that they are equipped with both the skills and confidence to make the most of the digital age.

“By supporting older workers to be 'digital adopters' employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages."

Nupur Mallick, HR director at TCS UK, said the firm is embracing training for older workers. “At TCS learning and development is an ongoing process and we support all our employees to continue to learn and gain new skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age,” she said.

“Today’s report shows the increasing importance of continued skills development for workers. Taking action now will mean businesses can continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment and support valued employees with the skills training they need to stay in rewarding work for longer.”