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Shun older staff at your peril, firms told

Published on 18 April 2013 10:30 AM

Businesses risk getting 'left behind' if they don't mine the rich seam of over-50s talent, pensions minister Steve Webb has warned.

Mr Webb described older workers as a 'vital and untapped resource'.


His comments come in the wake of a new guide which forecasts that just 7 million young people are expected to leave school and college to fill the 13.5 million job vacancies over the next 10 years.

This workforce shortage means people could have to work until they are at least 70, says the guide.

The predictions come in the new Employing Older Workers guide published by the Government's Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

It warns: 'Employers who ignore Britain's growing older population could suffer skills shortages and lose an important competitive edge.'

Firms that ignore over-50s 'will be left behind'

Mr Webb said that Britain is in a 'global economic race' and is moving towards a time where there will be jobs that bosses cannot fill with anyone but experienced older workers.

He said: 'A firm that doesn't make use of the talent pool on offer among the over-50s will be left behind.'

The proportion of over-50s in the British workforce is set to rise from 27% now to a third by 2020, thanks to people living and keeping fit for longer, said the guide.

As many as half of workers aged over 55 plan to work over the state pension age now the default retirement age has been scrapped.

Webb stressed that the Government is certainly not suggesting older workers take jobs away from younger people.

He said: 'Instead, we're saying it's time businesses allow people to fulfil their professional potentials and that employers heed to the competitive edge older workers bring to their businesses.'

Differences between men and women working beyond retirement age

A report earlier this by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that nearly one in three (31.3%) who stayed in employment at the State Pension Age (SPA) or above were classified as self-employed.

It showed that there were more men (12.2%) than women (11.6%) working beyond the pensionable age for the first time.

Men who work into their retirement age are most commonly managers, directors and senior officials, while women are more likely to be in elementary jobs, such as cleaning, or in administrative positions.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director General commented, 'Unemployed older workers find it tougher than people in any other age group to get back into work.

'With the rising State Pension age meaning many people will need to work longer coupled with our ageing population, it is more critical than ever that the Government and employers take steps to stamp out discrimination in recruitment and in the workplace.

'Older people must be able to continue to contribute to the economy by working for as long as they wish.'

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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