16 March 2015

The UK economy could benefit by up to £25 billion a year if people over 50 could find work according to a report compiled by Dr Ros Altmann, the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers.

"A new vision for older workers: retain, retrain, recruit" can be found here.

To ensure they are making the most of the knowledge and skills of their older workers, it recommends that employers should undertake an age and skills audit of their employees.

Dr Altmann also advises businesses to ensure that line managers are trained in managing older workers and that age-diverse teams promote healthy ageing.

Companies should offer flexible working, she suggests, and should consider offering family crisis leave and gap breaks as ways of retaining the skills of older staff rather than losing them.

In terms of training, the report recommends that businesses provide adequate opportunities for all staff, regardless of age and — where possible — offer older workers in physically demanding jobs the opportunity to train for other roles.

When recruiting, companies are advised to highlight that jobs are open to applicants of all ages, and are invited to consider offering apprenticeships for older workers.

Recommendations to Ministers include: explaining the case for longer working lives to employers and the public; addressing adult skills gaps and ongoing retraining requirements; and tackling age discrimination, where necessary by imposing penalties for breaking the law.

Commenting on the report, Dr Matt Flynn of Newcastle University’s Centre for Research into the Older Workforce, called for the Government, unions and business groups to work together to establish clear career pathways for older workers and to ensure that their value as mentors and teachers to the younger generation is fully appreciated.