There are more people aged 50 and over in employment than ever before, and by 2020 over 50’s will make up almost a third of the working age population. In the North East, we have one of the lowest employment rates in the country for those aged 50 and over – 63.7%. This poses a real challenge.
Our aim to reduce inactivity levels in our 50+ workforce aligns with the government’s ‘Fuller Working Lives’ strategy, which encourages employers to boost their numbers of older workers and to make sure that those in our workforce who are older are supported, whether they want to pursue a new direction or continue in their career. Challenges associated with building an older workforce include issues people face such as redundancy, health problems and caring responsibilities that force them to leave the workforce before retirement age.
We can retain over 50s in the workplace by planning effectively for an ageing workforce. We are working with employers in the region to investigate how we can best retain the skills and experience of older workers in our region’s economy.
When it comes to recruitment, age discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious, can be a barrier for older people who are seeking work. It can also mean that employers are missing out on the skills and experience of an entire section of the workforce.
Older workers are often overlooked when it comes to workplace training. However, someone aged 50 could easily stay with their employer for another 15 years or more, so there’s a clear case for investing in their development, to the benefit of both the individual and the employer.
What are we doing to help?
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership have created a task and finish group composed of business leaders, local authorities and policy makers to tackle the issues raised in the Fuller Working Lives strategy in the North East. They’ll be supporting employers to make workplaces fit for a changing workforce and we’ll be looking at how we can make sure that people of all ages have the opportunity to develop their skills.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership have also created a free Fuller Working Lives toolkit that helps businesses remove the barriers that prevent older people from staying in the workplace. Developed in partnership with the Education Development Trust, the toolkit includes a host of resources including data on the 50+ workforce in the North East, podcasts, case studies and information on support schemes. You can access the toolkit hereFind out more