Older workers essential to bridging the looming skills gap

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Older workers essential to bridging the looming skills gap

Older workers essential to bridging the looming skills gap

A new PwC study, ‘The Golden Age Index’ suggests the UK could boost its gross domestic product (GDP) by about 4.2% or £80 billion if the employment rate of older workers (defined as over 55) could match that of Sweden, the best-performing European Union country in the Golden Age Index. That is the equivalent of £7,000 per 55-65 year old and that would be great news for the economy.

According to Business in The Community (BITC) – the Government Business Champion for Orders Workers, by 2022, an estimated 12.5 millions jobs will be opened up through people leaving the workforce and an additional 2 million new jobs will be created. However, only 7 millions new young people will enter the workforce to fill these jobs. Now, I’m no economist or even that good at maths, but those numbers just don’t stack up.

PwC’s research also identified almost one million people aged 50-64 that are not in employment but who are “willing and would like to work”, a group a previous Peldon Rose study identified at “the forgotten generation” with PwC suggesting that if these older workers were employed, it could help bridge the looming skills gap. This further supports BITC’s #OneMillionMore campaign to get businesses to commit to 12% more older workers in the workforce by 2022. A number of leading businesses have already made their commitment public and published their workforce data, which can be found on the BITC website.


According to John Hawksworth, chief economist at PWC UK “As the number of people over 55 continues to grow steadily and life expectancy increases, the UK needs to make it as easy as possible for people to continue working for longer if they wish to do so. This would boost both GDP and tax revenues, so helping to pay for the increased costs of an ageing population.”

PwC – Golden Age Index – UK Highlights


Carol Stubbings, global people and organisation leader at PwC points out “The life experience of older workers and the skills they have acquired throughout their career make them hugely valuable to the modern workforce. To build on this, leading employers will offer older workers opportunities for development, including reverse mentoring schemes on digital skills and apprenticeships.”

Multigenerational workplaces benefit from a range of experiences, ideas and ways of thinking and according to the CIPD, the main benefits of age-diverse teams are seen as:
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Greater innovation
  • Having different perspectives
  • Knowledge-sharing
  • New ideas
  • Improved problem-solving


Support for older workers also results in increased loyalty and retention, improving productivity and reducing recruitment costs. Research has shown that workers over 50 are five times less likely to change jobs compared with workers aged 20-24, so recruiting older employees can save on ongoing recruitment and training costs. The average cost of recruiting and training a new member of staff is estimated by CIPD at £6,000. Research conducted by Oxford Economics found that businesses spend an average of £5,433 on logistical costs of recruiting a new employee. According to the insurance firm RIAS, older workers are half as likely to take a sick day compared to their younger counterparts. Only a quarter of over 50s took time off in 2014 due to ill-health compared to just under of half of those aged 20-30 years old.


The PwC study, ‘The Golden Age Index’ further supports the need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting, retaining and retraining older workers. Developing a multigenerational workplace should now be seen as an essential business strategy to sustain growth, and with it comes the added benefit of boosting our economy. So commit to your 12% and help find #OneMillionMore older workers as we all gain from fuller working lives.

Here at Fortyplus People, we are passionate about age diversity and believe that a mixed-age workforce is an essential resourcing strategy for every business.

As our population is ageing, older workers are our future workforce. The need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting, retaining and retraining older workers is crucially important for businesses. In particular, industries with a higher proportion of workers will need to adapt their practices quickly to ensure they can retain and recruit the older workers who are fundamental to their workforce.

To find out how Fortyplus can support your resourcing strategy, contact Kelly or Stephen on 01869 241254 or email us at resourcing@fortypluspeople.com.

If you’re a candidate looking for your next move, planning a return to work or a change of direction call Hayleigh or Charlotte on 01869 241254 or email us at jobs@fortypluspeople.com.