Feburary 2017 - Business Champion for Older Workers calls for a million more older people in work by 2022

Andy Briggs of Aviva sets out Business Champion vision to increase employment rate for 50-69 year olds. Every UK employer called on to increase the number of people aged 50-69 they employ by 12 per cent within 5 years UK employers tasked with removing age bias in retention, progression and recruitment

Employers should increase the number of older people in the UK workforce by one million over the next five years to combat age bias, the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, will announce today.

To address the widening skills gap, tackle age bias in work and enable people to stay in work longer, every UK employer should increase the number of workers aged 50-69 in the UK by 12 per cent by 2022. The target is aimed at supporting older people who want the same range of options and opportunities as younger colleagues, and to be recognised for their experience and expertise. In recognising the skills older people bring to the workplace, employers will benefit from the breadth and depth of their knowledge.

The Government appointed Andy Briggs, who is CEO of Aviva UK Life, as its Business Champion for Older Workers alongside the Business in the Community Age at Work Leadership Team of which he is Chair. As Business Champion, Andy and Business in the Community are tasked with supporting businesses to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

“One million more older people in work by 2022 is an ambitious yet necessary target. There are 15 million people of this age group in the labour market, yet only nine million are in work. We want to get this to 10 million by 2022,” said Andy.

“This target is achievable if employers commit to taking an honest and sustained approach to understanding age bias in their organisations. Older people can be written off by their employers, but we are asking employers to consider carefully the overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce, and then to act on it. We live in an ageing society so it is critical that people are able to work for as long as they need and want to and there are overwhelming benefits for both employers and employees.

“Many people aged over 50 want to continue to develop their careers, learn new skills, try new things and also share their broad knowledge and experience. This is good for everyone, and particularly for employers and their businesses who will benefit from drawing on the talent, creativity and experience of all of their employees, regardless of their age.”

The employment rate for people aged 50-69 is 59 per cent and the Business Champion for Older Workers says this must increase to 66% by 2022 if the UK is to start addressing its skills gap. By 2022, 14.5 million more jobs will be created but only 7 million younger workers will enter the workforce – leaving 7.5 million roles unfilled.

Rachael Saunders, Business in the Community’s Age at Work Director, said: “Our role is to raise awareness of the injustice facing so many older workers and people in the UK. The over 50s are a key part of the UK workforce and employers need to open their eyes to this talent pool. We are here to provide employers with the practical guidance and support they need to take action. We urge employers to get behind this target and work with us to prevent people from leaving work unnecessarily early and to benefit from an age diverse workforce.”

At the launch event today, Andy will outline the facts behind the 2022 target, which include:

  • If the employment rate of people aged 50-64 matched that of those aged 35-49, it would add more than 5 per cent to UK GDP, or £88 billion.

  • By 2020 over 50s will comprise almost one third of the working age population and almost half of the adult population.

  • The UK employment rate at aged 50 is 83 per cent, dropping to 64 per cent at aged 60.

  • 47.2 per cent of people aged 50+ and unemployed have been out of work for 12 months or more, compared to 34.3 per cent of all UK adults.

Andy as Business Champion for Older Workers and in collaboration with Business in the Community, has published a 'How To Guide' to support employers in achieving their 12% target by understanding their workforce profile, listening to what their older employers need, and taking action to improve their retention and recruitment of older employees.

The Business in the Community and its Age at Work Leadership Team, chaired by Andy Briggs, will track progress by reviewing the government’s Labour Force Survey statistics for increases in the total number of older people in work and in the employment rates of older workers aged over 50, and is committed to supporting employers in meeting the target.

The target is supported by the Centre for Ageing Better. Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, said: “The Centre for Ageing Better gives its full support to achieving the goal of a million more older people in work over the next five years. By 2022, more than one in three workers will be over 50. Employment rates for this age group have been growing, but they remain much lower than for younger people, with a rapid falling off after the age of 55. Increasing the numbers of people over 50 in fulfilling work is good for society, good for business and most importantly good for people themselves.

To achieve this ambitious target, we need age-friendly workplaces, which allow people to sustain productive and healthy working lives for longer. Older workers should expect to be treated equally and fairly as any other worker, with flexibility, reasonable adjustments, and opportunities for development.

A number of employers are already taking positive steps to become age-friendly and support older workers. Through our partnership with Business in the Community we are building and sharing the evidence of what works so that more employers understand what they can do and take effective action. This target is a decisive call to action - we all need to do much more to ensure that workers over 50 have the chance to continue to work in later life."

For more information on the Business Champion for Older Workers target and action plan and access to the How To Guide please visit: http://age.bitc.org.uk/BusinessChampion

Ends

Notes to Editors

To request an interview or more information please contact Business in the Community: Alex Delaney, PR Manager, alex.delaney@bitc.org.uk, 0207 566 8694

The Business Champion for Older Workers’ target is based on modelling of labour market participation drop off rates, using government data, undertaken by Business in the Community, the Centre for Ageing Better and the Resolution Foundation. More information on the target can be found here:  http://age.bitc.org.uk/BusinessChampion.

The Business Champion of Older Workers role is held by the Business in the Community Age at Work Leadership Team: http://age.bitc.org.uk/membership/leadershipteam

Sources:

  • Negative preconceptions about older workers persist, Source: Age at Work Myth Buster Factsheet, Business in the Community, 2015.

  • Nine out of ten workers over 50 want to make progress in their careers, Source: Age in the Workplace Report, Business in the Community 2016 (UKCES 2015).

  • 9 million of 15 million people of aged 50-69 are in work. Source: Labour Force Survey, Q3 2015 – Q2 2016.NB: Labour Force Survey data shows that 9.2 million 50-69 year olds are in work, and through modelling the Business Champion for Older Workers has identified that this participation should increase by 1.1 million to 10.3 million by 2022.

  • The employment rate for people aged 50-69 is 59%. Source: Labour Force Survey, Q3 2015 – Q2 2016.

  • If the employment rate of people aged 50-64 matched that of those aged 35-49, it would add more than 5% to UK GDP, or £88 billion, Source: The Missing Million 1: Illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50s, Business in the Community, 2014.

  • By 2020 over 50s will comprise almost one third of the working age population, and almost half of the adult population. Source: DWP Policy paper ‘2010 to 2015 government policy: older people’, 2015.

  • The UK employment rate at aged 50 is 83%, dropping to 64% at aged 60. Source: Business Champion for Older Workers’ Target action plan 2016, Labour Force Survey statistics 2015.

  • 47.2% of people aged 50+ and unemployed have been out of work for 12 months or more, compared to 34.3% of all UK adults. Source: Missing Million: Recommendations for Action, Business in the Community, 2015.

About Business in the Community

The age at work campaign at Business in the Community is committed to ensuring that an ageing population has equal access to employment, supporting employers to prevent early exit from working life, support later life working and support intergenerational workforces. In September 2016, the campaign’s Leadership Team was appointed the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, tasked with leading work to support businesses to recruit, retain and retrain older workers and to identify and share demonstrable solutions for employers. http://age.bitc.org.uk/