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Mind the gap, warns CIPD: ageing workforce will be essential to meet employment deficit and avoid organisations risking competitive edge

Older workers are needed to help the UK remedy the challenges of a future employment gap. It is predicted that UK employers will need to fill an estimated 13.5 million job vacancies in the next ten years, but only 7 million young people will leave education over this period. Employers will increasingly need to rely on older workers to fill these vacancies.

New guidance from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Managing a healthy ageing workforce: A national business imperative3, produced in collaboration with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, stresses the need for employers to act now, or risk the consequences.

Research shows that the age of the UK population is predicted to grow: by 2020, 36% of the working population will be aged over 504.  And the number of people aged 90 and above will triple by 2035.  Although some employers have begun to manage the issues associated with an ageing workforce, for those who have yet to make headway the main barrier appears to be a lack of expertise and awareness around these changing demographics.

This guide is designed to trigger action from employers and older workers themselves. It focuses on three steps to managing an ageing workforce: building a business case, addressing issues of perception and developing talent management. Employers will benefit from the clear practical support on offer and together build on the value to be gained from older workers.

Dianah Worman, Diversity Adviser, CIPD, said: “Organisations that respond appropriately to the challenges of an ageing workforce will gain a significant competitive edge, both in terms of recruiting and retaining talent, but also through supporting the well-being and engagement of employees of all ages. The business case for older workers is strong and research shows their impact and experience within the organisation enables better customer service, enhanced knowledge retention and can help to address talent and skills shortages. All of this will help to guard against potential age discrimination claims, thereby mitigating damage to the brand and any associated costs. With the removal of the Default Retirement Age last October, employers are freed up to adapt their workforce to the labour needs of the market.

“CIPD research shows that older workers are increasingly looking to extend their working lives, with more than 50% of workers aged over 55 planning to work beyond the previous state retirement age. Although financial reasons play a key factor, many older workers also wish to continue using their skills and experience and enjoy the social interaction they experience in the workplace.”

The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives (SCHWL) at NHS Health Scotland worked with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to produce this guide.

Strategic Director of the Centre, Steve Bell said: “Our population is ageing fast and we are all living longer. Older workers are increasingly looking to extend their working lives and we need to respond to this change in demographics. The new guidance provides practical and simple advice on how to do this, enabling employers to support all workers as they continue to contribute to the economy.”

Footnotes
1 UKCES 2008
2 GADa
3 The guide is based on findings from focus group sessions with employers, HR practitioners and other employment and training experts. As well as other research and development work produced by a variety of organisations
4 Government Actuary’s Department.

View Managing a healthy ageing workforce


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