Can the Older Workers Bridge the Skills Shortage Gap?
Jul 6, 2015
Can the Older Workers Bridge the Skills Shortage Gap?
Jul 6, 2015

As Britain’s population hits a record breaking high of 64.6 million, a new study by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned of the threat of a significant skills shortage if the older generation aren’t encouraged back into the workplace.

There are 9.4 million workers over the age of 50 in the UK, but between the ages of 53 and 67 the employment rate drops. There are many older people wanting to work but not being hired, and 4 in 10 unemployed older workers are out of work for more than a year.

With an increasing demand on services it seems silly not to utilise the pool of older, experienced and skilled workers keen to continue in work, but how?

The CIPD are urging organisations to “take steps now to reap the benefits of a more age diverse workforce”. Changing attitudes and building a new strategy that revolves around the following, is some of the key advice from this report:

  • Inclusive recruitment practices
  • Investing in training and development
  • Supporting employee health and wellbeing
  • Flexible working
  • Improving line manager capability

Backing up this CIPD report comes research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) which showed that “businesses need to adjust the way they advertise jobs and provide training opportunities or miss the best candidates in the over 55-age group.” The report commented on job adverts and the need to adjust tone of voice and leave out terms such as  ‘graduate’ or ‘energetic’ that may be off putting to older workers.

According the Office of National Statistics, the rise in the population is down to both a higher number of births than deaths (46% of the increase) and positive net migration (53%). So as people live longer, they want to work for longer. Older workers have a wealth of experience and skill that they can bring to organisations as well as maturity for dealing with difficult or sensitive situations.

Age UK and the REC have teamed up to launch a best practice protocol guide which “aims to end age discrimination in recruitment and give older people a better chance of finding work.” It guides recruiting organisations in committing to offering opportunities for older workers and highlights the benefits they can bring to an organisation. This might involve upskilling or reskilling some workers or promoting flexible working opportunities.

It’s no doubt that utilising the skills, enthusiasm and commitment of older workers could bridge the gap of skills shortages for many organisations. This issue also highlights the increasing need for true equal opportunities and a ‘blind recruitment’ approach.

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