Much has been said of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the 'lost generation' and employment prospects of the young, but new research by the Resolution Foundation has found that older UK workers have also been hit hard, with those aged over 50 twice as likely to have lost work than those aged 25 to 49.
But the employment rate isn't the only challenge for over-50s. Those who find themselves in the jobs market are expected to take longer to secure a new role - with fewer than two in three returning to work within six months - and their pay is also likely to take a hit, with hourly earnings reducing by an average of 9.5% if and when a new job is found.
For many years, workplaces have been preparing for up to five generations to be employed at the same time. The demands of an ageing workforce at a time where retirement happens later and pension funds need to last longer have sometimes been neglected in favour of attracting new talent, fresh ideas and the digital skills of the next generation of workers.
Successful businesses benefit from a good, carefully measured balance of new ideas, continuity of specialist knowledge and experience. This will be especially important for companies who rely on the sharing of that knowledge and experience between established and new colleagues to perform their services at to the highest standards. Where physical absence from the workplace, because of extended periods of remote working or a total cessation in work, has greatly reduced the opportunity for sharing and collaboration over the past 12 months or more.
Although government support in increasingly available to businesses to encourage the recruitment of younger employees, through apprenticeships and other programmes, there may be no government incentives to retain established, older workers. Re-training and re-skilling programmes are expected to be accessible only to those individuals who are already out of work.
So, as we emerge from the pandemic and over a year of stop-start lockdowns, and whilst employers review new working practices it's a good opportunity to consider the continuing contribution older workers can make to the business and what can be done to ensure that they are prepared and properly skilled for the next phase of their working lives, and the success of the business now and in the years to come.
If you have any questions about changes in your workforce, please contact Kevin Poulter at firstname.lastname@example.org
The decline in the employment rate for the over-50s has been twice as big as for those aged between 25 and 49. The Resolution Foundation also found that after losing work, older workers take the longest to return.