Looming employment crisis could be made worse by lack of training for over 55s

  • Workers over the age of 55 are more than twice as likely to miss out on training at work compared to those aged 18-34
  • Just 12% of workers over 55 receive training from their employer for skills that would help them transition into a new line of work, compared to 27% of those workers aged 18-34 years old
  • Less than one in ten (7%) of workers aged over 55 receive training from employers that provide the skills to manage life’s uncertainties and pressures, less than a half of that of 18-34 year old workers (20%)

The largest global retirement survey of its kind, carried out in 15 countries by Aegon*, highlights a considerable training gap between older and younger workers in the UK, which in an increasingly uncertain job market, could hinder older workers’ job prospects. Over a third of over 55s (36%) reported that their employer didn’t provide any training to keep their skills up to date, in comparison to just 16% of younger workers aged 18-34.

Aegon’s latest research suggests younger generations will be far better equipped with new skills making it easier for them to navigate the post-Covid job market.

The latest figures from the ONS suggest 673,000 people have lost their job since the beginning of the UK wide lockdown in March**, while the Bank of England’s forecast that the level of joblessness could double to 7.5% by the end of the year***. For many workers, high unemployment rates will push them out of current lines of work and into new ones as the economy restructures and rebuilds.

Lifelong learning is essential in keeping older workers job ready and making a flexible retirement a realistic aspiration. Yet, older workers do not get their fair share of reskilling and training opportunities. This is of particular concern to the 30% of over 55s that have been placed on the UK government job retention scheme**** who could face the ominous threat of ‘never working again’.

More than double the proportion of young workers, aged 18-34 say they receive training from their current employer for skills that would help them transition into a new line of work, compared with their peers older than 55. Over a third of those over 55 receive no training whatsoever to help keep their skills up to date.

Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, comments:

“Increased longevity means people have re-set their expectations and not only plan to work for much longer than previous generations, but base their retirement plans around a longer period of time in employment. For those workers approaching retirement, finding themselves unexpectedly out of work, or in a lower paid job can have a severe impact on their retirement savings.

“Covid-19 has shown how precarious the job market can be at times, but importantly underlines how important continuous development can be, from both a personal perspective and a career point of view. If we are to learn anything from this, it is that employers can play a key role in helping support workers of all ages keep their job skills up to date by providing access to opportunities for lifelong learning.

“Lifelong learning, and in particular, access to vocational skills training and retraining can help workers adapt to a changing job market and remain in the workforce as long as possible. This is particularly pertinent for older workers who once out of work, are twice as likely to be long term unemployed as younger workers^.”



* Research carried out with 14,400 workers and 1,600 retired people across 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The survey was conducted online between January 28 and February 24, 2020.

** Labour market overview, UK: October 2020:https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/october2020

*** Bank of England Monetary Policy Report August 2020: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/monetary-policy-report/2020/august/monetary-policy-report-august-2020

****Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme statistics: August 2020  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-statistics-august-2020

^Centre for Aging Better’s report ‘A mid-life employment crisis’ https://www.ageing-better.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-08/Tackling-worklessness-among-over-50s-after-covid-report.pdf


Further information

Neil Cameron

PR Manager

Aegon UK




Notes to Editors

  • In the UK, Aegon offers retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions to over three million customers. Aegon employs around 2000 people in the UK and together with a further 800 people employed by Atos, we serve the needs of our customers. More information: aegon.co.uk
  • As an international life insurance, pensions and asset management group based in The Hague, Aegon has businesses in over twenty markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Aegon companies employ approximately 26,000 people and have millions of customers across the globe. Further information: aegon.com

Figures correct as of November 2019