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NHS nurse

If we support older workers, we will all reap the benefits

Recent figures show that 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.

Our Senior Programme Manager for Fulfilling work, Patrick Thomson, is calling on the government to champion flexible working, better support for carers, and more effective employment support for over 50s.

Older workers – and by that I mean people working in their 50s and beyond – are fast becoming the backbone of the British workforce. There are 10.4 million over 50s working in the UK – equivalent to nearly a third of all workers. And recent figures by Rest Less show that 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.

This is fantastic news for our economy – increasing tax revenues, reducing benefits spending and boosting overall levels of GDP. A stronger economy means more employment opportunities for people of all ages.

Working in a good quality job also keeps us active and more financially secure. When we surveyed over 50s, they told us that the thing they most missed after leaving work was the social connections. Perhaps why around one in five people are estimated to ‘unretire’ in the years after they have formally stopped working.

Some 28% (3.5 million) of 50-64 year olds in the UK are not in work – more than the entire population of Wales.

But as a society we need to do much more – despite the number of older workers increasing overall, there’s still a dramatic drop off of employment rates in the years approaching state pension age. Some 28% (3.5 million) of 50-64 year olds in the UK are not in work – more than the entire population of Wales.

While some are not working out of choice, around a million people aged between 50 and state pension age are not working but would like to be.

A key issue is that people with health conditions aren’t getting the support they need at work – often simple things like being able to work flexibly, or small workplace adjustments. Similarly, many struggle to balance work commitments with caring for a loved one. And ageist workplace cultures are limiting training and development opportunities for over 50s and blighting their chances in recruitment processes.

We need employers to make their workplace practices and policies age-friendly and for the government to champion flexible working, better support for carers, and more effective employment support for over 50s. We’ve created a five-point guide to help employers do this. 

If they do, we will all reap the rewards of a stronger economy – and the opportunity to work for as long as we want and are able to.

Fulfilling work - one of our priority areas

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Patrick Thomson
Senior Programme Manager – Fulfilling Work