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Being in fulfilling work

We want more people aged 50 years and over to be in fulfilling work that supports a good later life.

Work is important financially but is also a major source of social connections. Fulfilling work that suits the individual can give a sense of purpose, and keep people physically and mentally active.

We’re focusing on creating more age-friendly workplaces and finding new solutions to support people aged 50 and over back into work.

Why work on it?

Later life in 2015 highlights that some people feel the need to work longer, or return to work to protect their financial security. For those able to work longer, employment also provides social interaction, meaning and purpose, and can lead to better health and higher levels of activity.

While some employers do recognise the importance of retaining an older workforce, many don’t, and evidence on which employment practices are effective is not widely understood.

While there has been a steady increase over the last decade in the number of people over 50 in work, there is still a rapid fall in employment rates among people between 50 and the state pension age (SPA). By the year before people reach the SPA, over half are not in work. Business in the Community’s report The Missing Million highlighted that approximately 1 million people are ‘involuntarily workless’ – out of work for a range of reasons including redundancy, caring responsibilities or ill health.

This group have more difficulty than any other group in returning to work. Analysis of the government’s Work Programme shows just 14.2% of people over the age of 50 are supported into a long-term job. That is a success rate of less than one in seven – worse than any other group regardless of gender, ethnicity, or disability.

Latest activity

  • We have commissioned a team led by the University of Westminster to carry out employer-focused research to better understand how we can make workplaces more age-friendly. The research will begin in Summer 2017 and findings from the study are due to be published early in 2018.
  • Our report Fulfilling work: what do older workers value about work and why? Identifies the characteristics of work that are important to people aged 50 and over, and explores actions employers can take to attract and retain them. Understanding what older workers want is the first step in helping employers, policy makers and others create age-friendly workplaces.
  • We are partners with the Business in the Community Age at Work campaign. We are working with employers to draw together and share the evidence about age-friendly workplaces, learn from what leading employers are doing, and spread what works.
  • We are also developing and drawing together the evidence about the most effective ways to enable people aged 50 and over to get back into work. We are partners with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on a pilot project to develop and test new approaches to address worklessness and job insecurity amongst people aged 50 and over in GM.
  • Changes to the state pension age will have a far-reaching effect on current and future generations’ income at retirement and will influence decisions about how long people continue to work.  See our latest submission to the Cridland review on the State Pension age.

Support us

Please get in touch if you are able to contribute information or ideas because:

  • you are doing relevant research
  • you are an employer who has initiatives that support age friendly workplaces, or have personal experience that could help inform the design of interventions and solutions
  • you are delivering a service or intervention designed to support people to work or make a contribution to their communities
  • you have ideas about how the Centre for Ageing Better can make the most difference
  • you share our ambitions and would like to explore how you could contribute or work with us.