Government ministers and business leaders have today called on employers to “retain, retrain and recruit” more older workers, as part of a new strategy to increase the number of older people in employment.
The “Fuller Working Lives” strategy hopes to boost the number of older people in work and ensure employers are not writing people off once they reach a certain age.
Highlighting “social and health benefits of working longer”, the strategy outlines how a coalition of Job Centres and businesses could support older people to remain in work for longer and even further their careers.
The average age of people leaving the labour market has increased over the past two decades, but the government argue this is still failing to keep up with longer life expectancy.
The Government also claim 1 in 4 men and 1 in 3 women who reach state pension age have not worked for 5 years or more.
In an obvious bid to ‘nudge’ more people into working into their latter years, the strategy also claims those who delay retirement (from 55 to 65) could see £280,000 in extra income and increase their pension pot by 55%.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Damian Green said: “Most people are healthier for longer and so are able to extend their careers and take up new opportunities.
“Staying in work for a few more years can make a significant difference not only to someone’s income but also their physical and mental health.
“I urge all businesses to reassess the value of older workers. Nobody should write off hiring someone due to their age and it’s unacceptable that some older people are overlooked for roles they would suit completely.”
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “We know that being in fulfilling work for longer is key to people being able to prepare for a good later life.
“Good work is important financially but is also a major source of social connections, good health, and provides a sense of purpose.
“We want more people aged 50 years and over to be in fulfilling work that supports a good later life, so we welcome the government’s Fuller Working Lives strategy launched today.
“But this is just the start – to achieve a significant increase will need concerted effort from employers as well as government, and a change in individual attitudes.
“This needs to include support for carers, access to lifelong learning, support for people with health conditions and disabilities at work – and an end to ageism in the workplace.”
Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, welcomed the new strategy, but added the charity “would like to see the Government take one step further by creating a statutory right to paid time off to care so that more employees and employers can benefit from this”.
She added: “Carers UK also welcomes the strategy’s emphasis on recruiting and retraining older workers. 2 million people each year come to the end of their caring role and many of them will want to return to the labour market but will struggle without a greater combined effort from employers and Government to put in place the right training, tailored support and returnship opportunities.”
Debbie Abrahams MP (Pictured), Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “It’s right that the Government is taking steps to boost employment for older people.
“However, more than half a million workers aged over 50 rely on in-work support – and that support is at risk of being rolled back through Universal Credit.
“That’s why Labour is calling on the Tories to reverse cuts to Universal Credit, which could see some older workers worse off by £2,600 a year.”