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In February the Government’s business champion for older workers, Andy Briggs CEO of Aviva, called for a million more older workers to be in work by 2022.

Attitudes to retirement are changing as we discussed in an earlier blog. There were fears in 2011, that, following removal of automatic retirement, older workers would become “incapable” and dismissal problematic. However, we have seen no increase in demand for capability dismissals.

The CIPD sees 5 essential components to addressing the challenge (briefly paraphrased here):

  1. Inclusive recruitment practices
  2. Improving skills for managing a diverse work force
  3. Training and development to reflect potential of individuals
  4. Health and well being
  5. Flexible working

On the latter two points it is worth noting an Australian study showing that middle-aged employees performed better on a three day week.

It may be worth re-thinking how age, seniority and salary are linked. The concept that an employee needs (or even wants) to be continually taking on more responsibility throughout their career may be cultural. It restricts the option for experienced people to take a new role, such as mentoring. That may seem absurd, but it is what many non-execs do. One challenge is to retain older talent it in such a way as to preserve dignity, clarify responsibilities and ensure correct accountability.

Irrespective of cultural attitudes, the UK is running out of workers. The CIPD estimate that there will be 13.5 million job vacancies over the next ten years, but only 7 million young people to fill them. The lower sterling value is already making the UK less attractive to potential employees from abroad and we have yet to understand how Brexit will affect the labour supply. CIPD emphasise that “it is important that employers act to safeguard their longer-term economic success by looking at older employees in their existing workforce more openly and creatively”.

Whether you would like some older workers, or not, options in the future will be different. Perhaps now is a good time to be welcoming the prospect, so as to take advantage of, and nurture, a growing pool of talent.