Employers are recruiting more and more over 65’s – that’s official. Figures just released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that the employment opportunities for the over 65’s have never been better. One in ten – or 1.2 million people – of the over 65’s are now in full or part-time work. This is more than double figures released in 2001 (4.9%) and is an increase of 3% on 2014.
Why is it happening? It is believed that a part of the reason is due to the raising of the pension age for women, which has gradually risen from age 60 in 2010 and will be the same as men (65 years) by the end of 2018. The increase in state pension age doesn’t wholly explain the trend, however, and other factors such as flexible working hours, and a desire to continue working beyond pension age, may also play a part.
Is it a good thing? Maybe. According to Claire Williams, Diversity director of the trade body Inclusive Employers, this could be a boost to productivity, since research suggests that the more diverse a team is the more productive it is.
And diversity doesn’t just mean sex and ethnicity, but should include the different thinking styles and personality that result from age diversity. She also noted that companies now have five generations of workers in their workforce, each with different expectations ambitions and skills. She said that organisations would do well to create a positive and inclusive environment where that diversity is valued.
Older workers bring a different outlook and attitude. This may be particularly helpful in retail work, for example, where older workers may better identify with customers of a similar age.
The Government sees this as a positive trend. Employment minister Damian Hinds said that the Government was committed to supporting older workers, and to supporting the business case and the benefits of employing older workers.
Mr Hinds said that more and more people want to remain in work during their later years, and he felt that businesses needed to respond appropriately to support that aim. To this end the Government has removed the default retirement age and has now extended the right to flexible working to all employees.
However Age UK was concerned that these statistics showed that an increasing number of people simply could not afford to give up work, given the current environment of persistent low interest rates for their savings and increasing costs.
It isn’t just work for the over 65’s that is increasing. At 69%, the employment rate for the age group 50-64 is the highest ever. That is almost 10 million workers in the UK. Three quarters of men in this age bracket are working and two thirds of women.
And this trend is set to continue. The insurance group Aviva is predicting that by 2024, the over 50’s will be the largest group in employment, representing one in three of the workforce.
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