Ageing workforce to fill future employment deficit

A higher number of 'essential' older workers will be needed if the UK is to fill its widening employment gap, research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) indicates.

According to the CIPD, employees in the UK will need to fill a projected 13.5 million job vacancies in the next decade, and with only seven million young adults expected to leave education in this time period it is likely that employers will rely older workers to fill these vacancies.

Figures from the Government Actuary's Department (GAD) also predict that the UK's population will increase by 2020, with 36 per cent of the working population aged over 50. In addition, the number of those aged over 90 will triple by 2035.

Drawing on research from public and private organisations and employment experts, the CIPD has warned that the UK must welcome, and be prepared for the issues surrounding, an older generation of workers. In particular, the CIPD raised concerns over the lack of expertise and awareness surrounding the shifting demographics, and emphasised that employers stand to gain a significant number of advantages from developing and managing a skilled older workforce.

Dianah Worman, a spokesperson for CIPD, commented: "Organisations that respond appropriately to the challenges of an ageing workforce will gain a significant competitive edge, both in terms of recruiting and retaining talent, but also through supporting the well-being and engagement of employees of all ages.

"The business case for older workers is strong and research shows their impact and experience within the organisation enables better customer service, enhanced knowledge retention and can help to address talent and skills shortages. All of this will help to guard against potential age discrimination claims, thereby mitigating damage to the brand and any associated costs. With the removal of the Default Retirement Age last October, employers are freed up to adapt their workforce to the labour needs of the market."

Previous research from the CIPD in 2010 indicated that older workers were increasingly looking to extend their working lives, with 54 per cent of those aged 55 and above planning to work past the state retirement age. Although the research noted that financial reasons played a key factor in the decision, many also wished to continue using their skills and experience, and were keen to retain the social interaction experienced in the workplace.