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Age Scotland calls for more investment in older workers to plug £360 million skills gap

Published on 08 July 2019 04:00 PM

Businesses need to do more to support older workers, according to Age Scotland, as research show skills shortages cost more than £360 million a year.

The charity says investing in training and lifelong learning is vital as the population ages and the number of people of working age declines.

Analysis by the Open University Business Barometer found that the cost of skills shortages rose by £10 million in the last year.

Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of Scottish businesses reported difficulties recruiting due to candidates lacking required skills, while spending on recruiters has risen by 85 per cent to £129.1 million. Sixty-four per cent of employers expect Brexit to make the skills shortage even worse.

At the same time, Scotland’s birth rate fell last year to the second lowest figure since records began, with the number of people of working age going into a decline.

Adam Stachura, Age Scotland’s Head of Policy, said: “Supporting older workers and investing in their training is essential to plugging this skills gap.

"As our population ages, working longer is becoming part of life, but too many older workers feel that their skills and experience are not valued. Our research found that one in four aged 40 to 64 feels they have been treated negatively at work because of their age.

“Employers are missing out by not supporting older workers with career development, health support, and flexible working arrangements. Getting that right doesn’t just help employees, but benefits their bottom line as well.

“We’ve already helped more than 200 Scottish companies and 4500 people create more age-inclusive workplaces and plan for their future effectively.

“We’d also like to see the Scottish Government tackling barriers to working longer and offering all workers a 'Career MOT' at 50 to help them prepare for their later working lives."

Age Scotland is working with partners, Business in the Community, Age NI and Age Cymru, on the five-year Age@Work project, which received a £2.2 million boost from the National Lottery Community Fund last month.

The charity is working with medium and large Scottish organisations to help them become more age inclusive, providing HR support and helping them make the most of inter-generational teams, a positive work environment, commitment to lifelong learning and employee well-being.

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