Research and analysis

Extending Working Life Sector Initiative (IHR13)

This report presents findings from an in-house review of the Extending Working Life Sector Initiative.



In-House Research No. 13

Maria Strudwick and Andrea Kirkpatrick

This report presents findings from an in-house review of the Extending Working Life Sector Initiative. The Sector Initiative took place between July 2010 and December 2011. It was during this time that the Default Retirement Age (DRA) was being removed. The initiative was designed to encourage leading sector bodies such as: Sector Skills Councils; trade and professional bodies, to communicate to employers a positive approach to EWL through the retention and employment of older workers and to provide support on the removal of the DRA. This was delivered to nine different occupational sectors: Construction, Retail, Hospitality, Public Administration, Manufacturing, Transport, Health and Care, Finance and Education.

Extending employment beyond the current average age of labour market exit is needed because of: demographic changes; increases in the age at which people are entitled to claim State Pension and the current state of under-saving for pensions. As the population ages the proportion of older people will increase. Demographic changes have meant changes for State Pension eligibility with women’s State Pension age being equalised with the State Pension Age (SPA) for men (65) by November 2018. SPA for both men and women is set to rise to 66 years by October 2020. Under current legislation SPA will increase to 68 years by 2046.

We know from a large scale survey that practice differs according to employment sectors, see: Metcalf, H. and Meadows, P. (2010) ‘Second survey of employer, policies, practices and preferences with respect to age, 2010’

The latest labour market statistics on older workers, based on data from the Labour Force Survey, are available from the ‘Older Workers Statistical Information Booklet’.

Key labour market statistics relating to the employment of older workers in the industrial sectors involved in the initiative, based on the Labour Force Survey, are provided in: ‘Extending Working Life Sector Initiative Analysis’.

DWP is continuing to meet the ongoing interest of over 40 sector bodies, by issuing regular sector specific newsletters. Evidence from this report has enhanced this activity. DWP’s Age Positive Initiative provides guidance and case studies to employers and business organisations on employing older workers and the business benefits of adopting flexible approaches to work and retirement. Age Positive guidance is available at The Department is due to publish updated guidance on “Employing Older Workers - An employer’s guide to today’s multi-generational workforce” shortly. This will be accompanied by case studies compiled as part of the Extending Working Lives Sector Initiative.