Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era: older workers, technology and skills

The Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era provides an insight into older workers’ attitudes towards skills, training and automation.

Through a survey of 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, the Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era: older workers, technology and skills report provides an insight into older workers’ attitudes towards skills, training and automation in the digital era.

Background to the report

The ageing population is altering the age demographics of the UK’s workforce, with many employers seeing significant parts of their workforce moving into retirement, and struggling to recruit young talent. At the same time, employers are transitioning into the digital era and seeking new skills to fulfil new jobs created by automation and technological advancement.

The UK is already facing talent and skills gaps, and with fewer younger people set to enter the workforce, the recruitment, retention, and retraining of older workers is key.

Workers older than 50 make up a significant and growing part of the future workforce, but most are not benefitting from the work opportunities that the digital revolution offers. Employers are not training them in the ‘human’ or technical skills required to succeed in the digital era – especially women and manual workers. Older workers are also less likely than younger workers to feel their employer informs them about the impact of automation and technology on their role. This is an opportunity for employers to challenge assumptions about older workers’ ambition and capability, and upskill them now, to prevent skills shortages in the future.

Recommendations for business
  • Make training, development and work opportunities more accessible to older workers – particularly those in lower skilled and lower paid work.
  • Create a company culture of lifelong learning, making it fun, accessible and inclusive. Design and provide training options, including a strong focus on continuous learning.
  • Understand older workers’ appetite for learning and development. Seek to understand the personal and cultural barriers that may prevent them from taking up opportunities.
  • Develop targeted training and reskilling support for specific groups of older workers, such as women, older workers with health conditions or disabilities, and those in lower-skilled manual work.
  • Introduce mid-life career reviews to encourage older employees to think through their options and provide space for broader conversations with managers about plans for the future.
  • Make recruitment more age-inclusive, for example, open up apprenticeships, internships and development programmes to people of all ages, including those seeking career changes later in life.
  • Communicate the impact of automation and technology on the business, and demystify future skills, particularly technology and digital skills.
About this document

Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era: older workers, technology and skills was published in 2017, hence it uses our old branding. Despite its age, the document contains relevant and useful information. However, some specific links, case studies and statistics may be out of date.

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