Historic job boost for over-50s 'could bypass UK', according to the Resolution Foundation think tank

An historic employment-boosting opportunity among the over 50s could pass the UK by, an independent think tank has warned.

Research from the Resolution Foundation found that, for older workers, the UK is ranked number 15 out of the 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

It sits behind the top five countries by more than 15 percentage points, and a closure of the gap would result in work for about 1.5 million people, it is believed.

According to the report, people wish - and need - to work for longer, especially those who bring in a low to middle income.

The time most pension saving takes place is at the age 50 years old and over, the report notes, and just one quarter of people are saving enough at the moment to enter retirement at the state pension age.

Two thirds of older workers say they wish to carry on working up to, or past, the pension age.

Older women, meanwhile, have barriers to face, with just six out of ten older women in work, compared with more than seven out of ten older men.

It is argued in the report that the increases planned for the state pension age are a step in the right direction, as financial incentives will encourage more older workers, women especially, to stay in their jobs.

Key barriers which need to be broken down are identified by the study, and overcoming these would offer greater employment among the over 50 age group.

These barriers include few incentives financially to stay in, or go back, to work, and significant caring responsibilities.

Chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, Gavin Kelly, said: "Older workers have fared comparatively well in our jobs market in the last decade but the truth is we're still nowhere near the podium internationally.

"There are very few opportunities boost living standards in the coming years and we can't afford to squander one.

"These findings should spur us on to make our labour market fit for older workers, from giving tailored employment support, providing higher quality part-time work and finally biting the bullet on a social care settlement to relieve caring pressures."

Copyright Press Association 2012