1 Million More Older Workers By 2022: update on progress towards our target

In 2015 Business in the Community (BITC) published The Missing Million: Illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50s. It explored the extent to which older workers had been forced out of their jobs through factors outside of their control. In February 2017 Andy Briggs, Chair of the BITC Age Leadership Team and Government Business Champion for Older Workers, set business an ambitious target of an increase of 1 million more workers aged 50 to 69 in the workforce by 2022. This update published in February 2019 examines how far UK businesses have moved towards this target. It finds record numbers of older workers are now in employment, however, changes in employment rates are currently not sufficient to achieve the 2022 target.

In 2015 BITC conservatively estimated that almost 1 million people aged 50-64 had been made ‘involuntarily jobless’, pushed out of their previous job through a combination of redundancy, ill health or early retirement. Those aged 55-59 are particularly exposed to involuntary exit of this kind, with 57 per cent of all exits amongst this age group the result of factors pushing them out of work.

BITC also explored why such a high proportion of people aged 50-64 leave the workforce completely. When we investigated the reasons people were not looking for work amongst this age group, a similar pattern emerges with long-term sickness, looking after family members and early retirement explaining the majority of inactivity amongst the pre-State Pension Age group. Looking specifically at those in their 50s, long-term sickness dominated, with half of all inactivity put down to poor health amongst those aged 50-54 and nearly 40 per cent among those aged 55-59.

The Missing Million: Illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50s suggested that employers were not doing enough to meet the demand for flexible working, and that lack of employer support was likely to remain a significant contributing factor pushing older employees out of work. A continued lack of employer support for older workers also feeds through into the evidence on involuntary redundancy which shows that older workers are significantly more likely to be made redundant than younger workers.

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