The Ageing Workforce: one in three will be over 50

The Ageing Workforce: one in three will be over 50

As we approach Thursday’s election, there is one topic that has been on the agenda and a little controversial to say the least and that is the issue of the ageing population.

In election terms this has been largely in relation to the NHS and rising costs and what is now the ‘dementia tax’. But there are of course other implications of this huge shift in the demographic make-up of our country and that’s the impact on the workplace. This is in addition to the massive changes in technology over the last 50-100 years.

“The proportion of UK employees who say they will work beyond the age of 65 is at an all-time high, according to new research from Canada Life Group Insurance. Almost three quarters (73 percent) of employees expect to work beyond the traditional retirement age, up from 67 per cent in 2016 and 61 percent in 2015.”
HR Review

Employers’ really need to be actively planning for the next 5-10 years and beyond, to accommodate this change in demographics. The effects are pretty much knocking at our door now – with the Guardian reporting today that:

“When King George V sent the first telegrams to those celebrating their 100th birthday in 1917, he had to fire off 24 letters. Last year, his granddaughter Queen Elizabeth sent 6,405 congratulatory cards to centenarians in the UK. Her own grandson and her great grandson will be signing a whole lot more, based on current projections. Those forecasts suggest that today’s 10-year-olds have a 50% chance of living to at least 103.”The Guardian

We also need to look at our perceptions of ‘old age’. On a personal note, I visited a relative last weekend, he is 91, 92 this year and brilliantly he still manages to surprise me!

Still young at heart, and never one to give up his gadgets he loved unveiling his latest toy when I was there – a smart car, convertible!  He has several kindles, and also recently bought an Amazon Echo…he keeps me on my toes when it comes to staying up to date with technology!

I think he is a super example of how things are changing, and what our perceptions of old age are. We need to rethink.

We are stuck in the rut of looking at our lives as three key stages of: childhood – work – retirement… this is no longer practical, or realistic.

So how do we get there? Employers and policymakers can start by doing more to help the current cohort of over-50s to stay in work if they want to.

This means looking at strategies to keep them motivated, re-training if necessary, or even relocating. Realistically – why do we retire at 65? Do we want to retire at this age? What do we do when we retire? Of course, much of this comes down to health, physical and mental – and can we continue to work, even if we want to.

“There are almost a million 50- to 64-year-olds who are not in employment at all but say they are willing or would like to work, according to the Fuller Working Lives report published by the government this year. In other words, despite skills shortages, employers are not making use of a whole pot of untapped talent and experience.

This urgently needs to change. As the Centre for Ageing Better points out, by 2020, one in three UK workers will be over 50 and employers will have to retain, retrain and recruit those older workers.” The Guardian

With these statistics looming, we need to see the positives of the older employee. They have a wealth of work and life experience which is an advantage – it’s the employers challenge to keep them engaged and motivated at work.

HR Review
The Guardian

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