‘Missing’ older workers could boost UK

With the UK still mired in economic troubles and unemployment high, it is perhaps obvious that we need to get more people into work.

Among older people, who find it harder than any other age group in the UK to move into work, this needs to be a real priority, in particular when we look at how poorly Britain fares compared with our international competitors. We see that getting more people aged 50+ into work can be done.

According to some new research by the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank which focuses on people on low to middle incomes, the employment rate for 55-64 year olds in the UK lags well behind the best performing countries from around the world.

While the average of the 5 best performers is about 72%, the UK falls well short with only 57% in work.This is a huge gap and shows that globally, when the opportunities are there and the incentives are right, people in their late 50s and above are often keen to keep working.

Undoubtedly there are lessons Britain can learn from these countries to help meet our economic challenges – particularly if, as Age UK believes, people should have the right to work longer if they want to.

Care and work, work and care

There is a clear and known link between informal caring and work. We already know that over a third of people with a caring responsibility are forced to quit work, and this is a major part of the reason why UK employment among this age group lags behind, particularly in women’s employment rates (although the lower State Pension also has an impact).

The report shows that Sweden is one of the 5 top performing countries for employing older workers, and has around half the rate of informal caring as in the UK. Where people do care, they tend to do so less intensively, and so are more able to work as well.

This highlights once again just how important the availability of flexible working is to older workers. In order to balance caring commitments and maintain high employment rates, it’s essential that UK employers become more willing to offer flexible working arrangements, thereby enabling more people to keep working. At present these opportunities are all too rare.

Failure to boost employment rates for this age group and bring back the ‘missing’ older workers is bad for them, bad for business and bad for the economy.

11 responses to “‘Missing’ older workers could boost UK

  1. Yes people should have the right to work longer if they want to and if they are fit enough, but the second age rise of the state pension age was totally unfair on those women who have worked all their lives in low paid jobs, have no private pension, therefore are forced to work even with age related complaints. Single women and widows have no choice but to carry on working and thus depriving fit young people of jobs, paying in contributions to help keep those young people, many who have never worked, on benefits. It’s also unfair on employers to have jobs blocked by older people who of course can’t keep up with the modern world as well as young ones can.
    I’d think it priority to get those young people into work, give the choice of retirement at 60 to those in their late 50s who have done their bit and deserve some freedom and a little bit back of what they have paid in all their life.
    I was lucky enough to be of an age to retire at 60 and I know at 65 I would find it very hard to go out to work now, having physical aches and pains from a lifetime of hard work.
    My widowed sister is 58 and forced to work to 65 and 1/2 with osteo arthritis, going on the sick is not an option as not enough to live on and why should she have to beg for benefits anyway.
    Fair enough let those older people in easy jobs who choose to work on do so, but it shouldn’t be a priority to get all older people to work when young ones need to earn a living and some respect for themselves.

  2. last year age uk fought for older people who are being FORCED to work longer – they actually took me to Parliament to protest against rise in pension age – while it is good for the people who want to work longer AGE UK must remember that the majority of older people DO NOT want to work longer and feel that after a lifetime of working from the age of 15 years we deserve our retirement years – so Age uk – do not forget the people you tried to help last year asnd now seem to be turning your back on

  3. Sadly high unemployment is a result of lack of available employment rather than anything else although the position may be more severe in the north than in some areas of the south. A 64 year old in employment means that somewhere a 24 year old is not. On the one hand people working longer may save a cynical government having to pay pensions till later. On the other hand an unemployed younger person will be costing money in that they need benefits.The question is really which of the 2 do you want to prioritise. While the elder worker may have the experience, the younger person will be considerably fitter and truth be told sharper.

  4. michaeljohnburgess

    After all said and done I agree that older people should stay on if they wish, but where does that leave us young people.

    lest us the fact that the government have said that older people don’t have to stop working any more but are having a go at us young people for not working and this is because the jobs that the older people where doing and retired was then given to a younger person witch to me should still be happening

    • You are so right Michael. It’s not your fault there aren’t enough jobs for young people yet the DWP harrass you and make up work experience jobs and courses that lead nowhere, simply to fiddle the unemployment figures. When I was young there were plenty of jobs, no job centres to have to go through, you saw a job and appiied and if you didn’t get it or didn’t like the working conditions there were plenty more jobs. The government can’t seem to see how unfair it is on young people having older people block jobs by keeping on putting the retirement age up. As you said, when an older person retired it made a job for a young person and that’s how it should be.

      • michaeljohnburgess

        Thank you some one agrees, because everyone I have spoken to has said that that think that working longer is better so u get more money.

        I have had some people likle yourself that agree with me and they say what we have said so I am not saying that older people cant work longer if thaey want to just not a good idea for us youth

  5. I am 56yrs old have worked since the age of 15yrs old without any breaks to have children or any other reasons I now have to go out to work each day with splints on both hands to allow me to work the day. While I believe it is right to let people work on who wish to do so I also believe that people over the age of 60 if for any reason cannot carry on because of age related illness ( a doctor would prove it) should be allowed to stop and claim what they have worked so hard for.. People 60 and over who are working would not stop working if they did not have to, these people have pride in themselves and do not want hand outs like some are so quick to take nowadays. Let jobs go to the youths and give them a bit of respect and dignity in themselves.

  6. What is all this fixation with older people working? Why can’t you see that young people who are wanting to set up homes and have families can’t get jobs and so are living on benefits that we older people are working to subsidise. Having worked from the age of 15 in heavy and menial jobs I think I and other women my age deserve a bit of leisure time rather than being forced to work on until we’re crippled or dead. Yes let older people work on if they’re daft enough to want to but for goodness sake let the rest of us see the light at the end of the tunnel and change the damned subject! Age UK seems to run with the hare and the hound, as has been said already last year they were campaigning to stop the coalition flogging us to death with a further state pension age increase, this year they seem to think we all want to work till we’re 90!

    • Exactly! Age UK welcomed the meagre 6 months concession the government grudgingly made instead of fighting on by a legal battle based on the 10 years notice people are supposed to have of any change in the state pension age.Women in their mid/late fifties, the most affected, were let down badly, they have no time to save so the ones in work will have to work until they drop and the ones out of work will have to scrape by on benefits, instead of rightfully receiving the state pension they paid in all their adult lives for.

  7. Michael is right, it isn’t a good idea to make people work longer, young people desperately need jobs and many like my sister were looking forward to retirement being in sight but it was snatched away twice. I think it’s selfish to work on after retirement age if you don’t need the money.I know of a few women who could be retired and don’t need the money but carry on working as they said they’d be bored. What is wrong with them? There are plenty of charities who would be glad of their help if they can’t amuse themselves with all the things we have these days to do. The goverment are already talking of putting the pension age up again and urging young people to save for a private pension if they want to retire earlier. How can they when they can’t get a job???????? They will be doomed to work until they drop if they ever do get a job in the future or scrape by on benefits harrassed all the time through no fault of their own.
    I worked in low paid jobs and have no private pension but I manage on the state pension because I don’t expect to go on holidays or out for meals or buy new clothes. That’s something else, the people forced to work longer not only have to keep paying in contributions but lose years of their entitlement to free prescriptions etc, just at the age when age related complaints start kicking in.
    Sitting in a cushy office job at 65 is a lot different to working physically, for example who would want a 65 year old carer? Neither the person needing the care NOR the employer I’d say!
    The worst is, the government by doing this have turned the younger people against the older and I agree with the young feeling annoyed at the selfish older workers but the ones being forced to work longer are not to blame.

  8. Pingback: Weekly news round up – 24th August 2012 | The Age Scotland Blog

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