Recruitment of older people is 'vital'

Businesses should recruit more older workers in order to stay competitive, according to a new government guide.

Employing Older Workers, published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), warns that Britain is fast running out of employees.

A total of 13.5 million job vacancies need to be filled over the next decade, but only seven million young people are projected to leave school and college during that time.

The DWP is encouraging companies to hire older workers in a bid to ensure all vacancies are filled.

It said older workers are a "vital and untapped resource" who can bring a wealth of experience and skills to any workforce.

People are now living longer than ever before, with the older generation benefiting from maintaining an active lifestyle. By 2020, it is predicted that the proportion of over-50s in the workforce will rise to a third of the workforce - a figure which currently stands at 27%.

In addition, half of workers aged over 55 are proposing to work beyond the state pension age and the default retirement age has been abolished.

The DWP claims that employers who ignore Britain's growing older population could suffer skills shortages and lose an important competitive edge.

"Britain is in a global economic race and we're moving towards a landscape where there will be a set of jobs that employers cannot fill with anyone but experienced older workers," said Pensions Minister Steve Webb.

"A firm that doesn't make use of the talent pool on offer amongst the over fifties will be left behind."

But despite the ageing population, people over 50 are still the least likely to be recruited as firms remain reluctant to take them on.

The new guide aims to quell this reluctance, advising employers on how to hire and retain older workers in order to build a multi-generational workforce.

One way to achieve this would be to offer work experience opportunities to people of all ages, not just younger people.

"We're certainly not suggesting older workers take jobs away from younger people, nor that people should be continuing working into their 70s," Mr Webb added.

"Instead, we're saying it's time businesses allow people to fulfil their professional potentials and that employers heed to the competitive edge older workers bring to their businesses."

Copyright Press Association 2013