Women and Equalities Committee report on older workers and employment - BITC responds

On 17th July 2018, the Women and Equalities Committee published its report on Older Workers and Employment.  Business in the Community (BITC) and the Government's Champion on Older Workers, Andy Briggs Chair of the BITC Age at Work Leadership team gave evidence to the Inquiry. 

Anne Willmot, Age at Work Director at BITC says:

"BITC warmly welcomes today’s report on Older Workers and employers from the Women and Equalities Committee, which adopts many of the recommendations we have called for. Supporting flexible working from day one and specific paid and unpaid leave for carers will enable employers to retain the skills and expertise of workers of all ages – older and younger alike, which is vital for the UK economy, recognizing the UK's ageing population and workforce. In light of the Gender Pay Gap reporting, we are particularly keen to see measures that support older women, particularly those in low paid initiatives to gain, sustain and progress in work.

We support the recommendation for larger companies to report publicly on the age profile of their workforce.  While we recognize that this will require some additional administrative effort by employers, many leading employers already analyse their workforce data, and we believe that it will be a strong catalyst for action and will enable employers to reap the tangible benefits of retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers.

Yesterday Business in the Community and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its new video for employers to introduce them to different ways in which they can support their older workers in their careers.  Hence, we note the committees’ recommendation for developing the role of the Government’s Champion for Older Workers with interest.  We welcome the opportunity for discussions with officials, businesses and partners to understand what support would be most valued and the best solutions."

Further information
  • The UK’s population is ageing.  People are living longer, the baby boomers are heading towards retirement, and the birth rate has declined year on year since 2012. Half of all adults in the UK will be over 50 years old by 2030. 
  • This demographic shift affects the economy, the workforce and talent supply. The UK is already facing talent and skills gaps, and with fewer young people set to enter the workforce, the retention, retraining and recruitment of older workers is key.
  • However, our research found there are a Missing Million people over 50 out of work, but who would prefer to work if the right opportunities were available. Of those over 50 who leave the workforce early, the most common reasons are a lack of appropriate skills, redundancy, caring responsibilities, health conditions, and age discrimination. Business must take action to challenge age-stereotypes, support older workers’ needs, and enable longer working lives.
Our leadership team members, together as the national Business Champion for Older Workers, are already reaping the rewards of supporting their older workers. We have set a target of increasing the number of older workers by 1m by 2022 – which equates to an average of 12% across companies in the UK.

Over the past two years, the Leadership team companies have taken action to retain, retrain and recruit people over 50, to offer them the same opportunities for work, training and progression as their younger counterparts. They are filling skills shortages, maximising the skills and experience of older workers, and benefiting from a workforce that better reflects their audience and customers.