With the number of pensioners in the UK forecast to rise by half by 2030, and the over-85s to double, it’s no surprise that the impact on society of an ageing population has been given an increasing amount of media attention recently.
Just a few weeks ago it was suggested that ‘Britain is 'woefully' under-prepared for the rising number of elderly people’, with both the Government and businesses failing to address the implications of our ageing population. The statement follows a report from the House of Lords’ public service and demography committee and, whilst many may deem it to be a simple case of ‘scaremongering’, it highlights a worrying truth that should be a cause for concern far beyond the issue of pensions and benefits.
According to a recent Guardian article, ten years ago there were 500,000 people in work over the age of 65. Today, that figure is approaching one million, with a rise of 270,000 since 2009. However, despite many employees now choosing to work past the traditional retirement age of 65, businesses are overlooking valuable skills and opting not to invest in this growing generation of older workers.
The Lords’ public service and demography committee has called for employers and the government to work together to help older people remain in the workforce, but this alone is not enough to put things right. Whilst enabling the older generation to remain in the workplace for longer is a vital step in addressing the issue of an ageing population, it will only work if accompanied by a change in thinking by organisations. This includes reworking HR policies and practices to meet the needs of this growing number of older workers in UK businesses.
Our research shows that currently only 8% of UK companies invest in training for the over 60s, but if we are to remain in the workplace longer then this has got to change.
Businesses need to take the lead and encourage older workers to enhance their skill set by offering both a job and training in one package, as they do for the younger generation. To ensure that all employees feel engaged, businesses can start by:
- Making sure managers and supervisors do not introduce age ‘cut offs’ simply because of their assumptions about different age groups
- Ensuring training and development is seen as an integral part of the culture of the business, with employees of all ages being actively involved in identifying their own development needs
- Monitoring the take-up of training to ensure that all employees are aware of the opportunities and are encouraged to take them up.
Organisations need to be preparing for this shift now or risk damaging the future development of their business.
 All bullet points refer to Age Positive business checklist: https://www.gov.uk/employer-preventing-discrimination