Press release

New report from Dr Ros Altmann calls for greater support for over 50s in employment

Enabling people over 50 into employment could boost the economy by up to £25 billion a year.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Dr Ros Altmann CBE

A major new report is launched today, by the government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, setting out ways to help more over 50s stay in or move into work.

The culmination of 8 months’ work, the report by Dr Ros Altmann CBE highlights why action is needed, setting out the issues of demographic change and increasing life expectancy.

It also recommends action that the government, business and the media should take to help older workers to thrive and ensure individuals, industry and the overall economy can reap the financial and social benefits.

Dr Altmann outlines the ‘3 Rs’ of ‘Retain, Retrain, Recruit’ – helping business to recruit more older workers, retrain existing staff as their careers develop and provide flexibility to retain staff – as well as setting out specific measures that should be taken to make UK workforces more age diverse.

If half the 1.2 million older workers – who are currently unemployed or inactive and would like to work – were to move into employment this could boost GDP up to £25 billion a year.

Dr Ros Altmann said:

The need to retain, retrain and recruit workers over 50 is becoming increasingly important as the population changes and people live longer.

I have set out to challenge outdated stereotypes, unconscious bias and age discrimination, which all contribute to preventing older people from staying in or returning to work.

There are many ways we can tackle this – which I have addressed in my report – including apprenticeships for those over 50, flexible working and better training for line-managers. Acting upon my recommendations will bring benefits to us all.

Dr Altmann was appointed to her government adviser role by Pensions Minister Steve Webb in July 2014.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

Beyond the age of 50, people start falling out of the workplace at dramatic rates – but there is a compelling economic and business case for overcoming these obstacles to access this vast untapped talent in the UK labour market.

The government has made a good start by abolishing the default retirement age and extending the right to request flexible working. But it is clear that old-fashioned and outdated perceptions still persist.

From next month, we will be trialling targeted and intensive support for older jobseekers, including rolling out an ‘older workers’ champion scheme across every part of the UK, and we are seeing more firms open apprenticeships up for people of all ages.

I’d like to thank Dr Ros Altmann for her report as a clear call to government, business and individuals to encourage more older people into employment.

The main recommendations of the report

For government

Develop a cross-government strategy on older workers, including a national strategy to address skills gaps, mid-life career reviews and particularly apprenticeships for older workers.

A research programme to quantify the benefits and communications campaign targeting both employers and individuals to explain the value of fuller working lives, identifying the economic and business case, the barriers, solutions, and the support available for all.

For business

An age and skills audit for employers – including monitoring and guarding against age bias in recruitment practices – to manage knowledge and experience in your business.

Better training to effectively manage older workers, promoting options such as flexible working, family crisis leave and menopause awareness.

For individuals

Rethink your later life: don’t write yourself off – and top tips to find work.

For the media

Media action to promote positive language, stories and updated images of older workers.

Make greater use of older presenters.

By 2022, there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16 to 49 in the UK workforce but 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and state pension age.

National Express

Coach operator National Express this week launched an apprenticeship scheme aimed at recruiting people for whom age and extended career breaks can pose a barrier to finding employment.

National Express managing director Tom Stables added:

Our new apprentice scheme welcomes applications from people from all walks and stages of life and we’re keen to see applications from a whole spectrum of people, from former full-time mums looking for a new challenge to older workers who, through no fault of their own, sometimes struggle after redundancy.

It’s famously been said ‘all human life’ is at National Express – it’s true and we place a high value on a diverse workforce because it reflects our broad customer base and we believe our business is strengthened by a wide range of skills and experience.

More information

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Published 11 March 2015