February 23, 2023
With UK job vacancies currently sitting at 1.134 million, are we missing a trick with the over-50s?
In a recent speech, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that older workers are important contributors to the economy, stressing the Government’s aim to drive economic recovery by lifting hundreds of thousands out of early retirement.
There’s no doubt this is a crisis. The number of 50-to-64-year-olds who are economically inactive currently sits at 3.6 million, 300,000 higher than pre-pandemic.
The Government has offered “mid-life MOTs”, to help workers in their 40s and 50s take stock of their finances, skills and health, deploying a network of “50-plus champions” to persuade businesses of the advantages of hiring older workers.
This places greater responsibility on employers to become more open-minded about who they hire, while making jobs more appealing to older workers through offering flexible hours, more health support and career progression.
But more steps need to be taken to further improve the situation. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a professional body focusing on management and leadership, warns that to bring more older workers back into the workforce, employers will also need to “shift their attitudes” towards hiring.
We know that getting more over-50s back into work would significantly boost the economy and productivity, while easing inflation and addressing the shrunken labour market.
The onus is on us, as employers, to be part of the solution, working together with the Government to understand how we can make the workplace and our economy fit for older workers.
Historically, employment support has failed this age group. Support needs to be tailored for people at later stages of their working lives, while eliminating age bias and making workplace cultures more age inclusive.
We need to look at what we, as employers, can offer, considering flexibility, bespoke job specs and financial incentives. But, also, it’s crucial to remember their adaptability; they have lived and worked through some of the most dramatic technological advances and are no strangers to adapting to change, which employers could use to their advantage.
It’s essential that we focus on supporting a multi-generational workforce to help the current labour market challenges.
Moreover, it’s critical that we give older workers the opportunity to work and share their valuable skills and knowledge with other generations. It’s not enough to purely focus on recruiting young people. We need to adopt and adapt talent strategies to attract older workers so businesses can thrive in the digital economy.