Number of older workers set to double

Mar 17 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The number of people aged 60 and over in the UK workforce is set to double over the next two decades as financial anxieties and increasing longevity force people to work longer.

A new report by City & Guilds, “Working in the Third Age", predicts that by 2020, more than one in five (22 per cent) people will be working well into their 60s – more than double the number at present.

According to the report, today’s workforce fully anticipates working for longer, with a third expecting to postpone their retirement.

A quarter of people expect to work longer are also worried that there will not be a state pension when their working days end while a further one in six people foresee the rules in their workplace changing, forcibly keeping them there for longer.

And as rising house prices prevent many people from getting on the property ladder until later on in life, a further 15 per cent of people expect to still be paying off their mortgage when they hit retirement age.

But while many fear being forced to stay on at work, many others want to carry on working for positive reasons. One in five anticipate delaying their retirement simply because they feel too young to quit working.

Despite many employers valuing the experience and knowledge of their ‘silver staffers’ and recognising a skills shortage among younger people, City & Guilds believes that employers can do a lot more to allay the fears of older workers.

The organisation wants to see more employers investing in on-going training and development, and encouraging the transfer of skills and experience by introducing mentor or trainer roles for more mature staff.

All employees – particularly older workers certainly feel vulnerable – nearly a quarter of those questioned (23 per cent) are worried about being unemployable. A further 69 per cent believe employers are ageist and a fifth feel that older people do not have access to the right training.

Chris Humphries, director-general of City & Guilds said: "Employers are realising the benefits of an older workforce but there is a lot more that can be done, both to support older workers and make the most of their skills and experience.

"Introducing changes such as flexible working and mentor roles for older people can benefit businesses and staff," he added.

"At the same time, employees can also help themselves to stay employable by future proofing their skills, updating their skill set and realising that one is never too old to seek career advice."