Steve Webb: Older workers key to plugging skills gap

Employers must do more to hire and retain older workers, according to pensions minister Steve Webb (pictured).

He said employers who ignore the over-50s talent pool are likely to suffer skills shortages and lose a key competitive edge.

His comments come after Government research published today revealed the number of people aged between 50 and 64 in employment in the UK has increased by almost 2 million over the past 15 years.

The research found that unlike all other age groups, the employment rate of people aged 50-64 is higher than before the recession.

The statistics show an extra 54,000 workers in this age group were in jobs in the period April to June 2013, boosting the total number of 50 to 64-year-olds in work to almost 7.7 million.

"Britain is a global economic race and in order to win we must embrace our ageing population and the wealth of skills and experience older workers bring to business," said Webb.

The research found the average age at which men retire has risen from 63.1 in 1993 to almost 65 in 2013. Women are now working on average until 62.6 - up from 60.9 in 1993.

It also found, with people living and keeping fit for longer, the proportion of over-50s in the workforce will account for a third of all workers by 2020.

Download a copy of a report by TalentSmoothie in collaboration with HR magazine on developing a strategy for an ageing workforce.