Businesses who do not tap into Britain's growing older population could suffer skills shortages and lose an important competitive edge, according to a new guide released by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Employing older workers warns employers that Britain is running out of workers. According to the DWP, there are 13.5 million job vacancies which need to be filled over the next ten years, but only seven million young people are projected to leave school and college over that period.
Pensions minister Steve Webb said: "Older people are the main untapped source of labour in this country. Britain is in a global economic race and we're moving towards a landscape where there will be a set of jobs that employers cannot fill with anyone but experienced older workers. A firm that doesn't make use of the talent pool on offer amongst the over fifties will be left behind."
The DWP outlined that as people live and keep fit for longer, the proportion of over-50s in the workforce is set to rise to a third of the workforce - up from 27% currently.
The default retirement age was abolished in October 2011 meaning that if an employee chooses to work longer they can no longer be discriminated against. Furthermore, CIPD figures showed that half of workers (50%) aged over 55 were proposing to work beyond the state pension age.
However, barriers for older workers to get work still remained as research found that people aged over 50 were still the least likely to be recruited.
"We're certainly not suggesting older workers take jobs away from younger people, nor that people should be continuing working into their 70s. Instead, we're saying it's time businesses allow people to fulfil their professional potentials and that employers heed to the competitive edge older workers bring to their businesses," Webb continued.
The DWP's new guide offers advice to employers on how to hire and retain older workers in order to build a multi-generational workforce. Suggestions include offering apprenticeships and work experience opportunities to people of all ages.
Several successful employers have reported the benefits of employing workers in their 60s, including the broader range of skills and experience they bring.
One of which was McDonalds, which reported a 20% increase in performance in their outlets where 60+ workers were employed as part of a multi-generational workforce.
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