Over-65s account for employment growth in next decade
For employers only
Workers aged 65 and older will be responsible for more than half of all UK employment growth over the next 10 years and almost two-thirds of employment growth by 2060, according to new figures.
Analysis of findings from the 2019 seasonally adjusted labour force survey by the Office for National Statistics suggests that by 2030 people aged 65 and over will account for 282,000 new UK employees out of a total 546,000.
By 2060 there will be around 746,000 new employees aged 65 and over out of a total employment growth of 1,193,000 – due in part to baby boomers entering this age group and a greater number of women in work.
“Our population is growing and people are living longer, healthier lives. Today’s over-65s are healthier and more active than previous generations and many who are fit and able to work tell us that they have no intention of fully retiring any time soon,” said Stuart Lewis, the founder of Rest Less, a jobs, volunteering and advice site for the over-50s.
“People’s reasons for continuing to work post state pension age vary wildly. From those who are choosing to top up their pension pots while they still can, to those who want to keep working for the love of the job or for the health and wellbeing benefits.”
Sue Cutler, 73, from Hollesley, Suffolk, has worked for an animal medicine trade association since 2001. She now works flexibly for them: she is contracted to do 144 days a year but often works extra days, covering for holidays and other staff absence.
“I work for financial reasons and want to continue to work while I’m physically able to, in order to top up my retirement savings,” she said. “It’s almost an hour’s commute each way to work but I definitely have no plans to give up work any time soon.”
The number of over-65s who are employed has increased by 188% in the last 20 years, from 455,000 to 1.31 million, and the proportion has grown from just over 5% to just under 11%. In the past 10 years the number has increased from 763,000 to 1.3 million – a 71% increase.
Population projections for the UK point to large increases in the number of over-65s in the decades to come, and Lewis said this longevity dividend had the potential to be one of the biggest societal opportunities in modern times.
But with around one in four people aged between 50 and the state pension age currently out of work, and older workers who fall out of work remaining out of work for longer than people of other ages, employers need to address their prejudices around older workers, Lewis said.
“Increasing numbers of over-65s in the workplace unlocks enormous potential for employers to embrace a talented, flexible and highly skilled workforce – but it also requires many employers to change their outdated stereotypes of age in the workplace and reconsider how they engage with and attract talented older employees,” he said.
“Age is the final frontier in the battle for a diverse, inclusive working environment and we have been encouraged by the growing number of pioneering companies coming forward to embrace the opportunity this presents. For employers who value real diversity of thought, the benefits of having 25-year-olds working in multigenerational teams alongside 65-year-olds can be hugely powerful.”
Patrick Thomson, a senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It’s clear that the older workforce is the workforce of the future. Employers urgently need to tackle ageism within their organisations if they and their workers are to make the most of these longer working lives.
“At the same time, it’s crucial that people aren’t forced to work in their late 60s and 70s because of financial insecurity, and that the kinds of work people are doing later in life is fulfilling and suitable. Few of us can expect to reach 65 without a disability or health condition, so employers must do more to support health in the workplace.
“And as recent figures showed, by the age of 56 more than one in five of us can expect to be caring for a loved one. So better rights are needed for carers at work, including measures such as flexible working and paid carers’ leave.”