Opportunities - not challenges — from an ageing workforce

The ageing workforce has long been cited as an issue for the labour market. Through people living longer, healthier lives, more than 10 million older workers are currently in employment — and 1 in 8 have continued to work beyond State Pension age.

Whilst the possibility of skilled workers leaving the workforce due to retirement is undoubtedly a challenge for the market, there are opportunities here too.

Many workers are not ready to settle down in retirement — instead choosing to keep their minds active by remaining employed.

The survival of many businesses depends upon innovation; including the hiring and finding of talent. Recruiters, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure that the business world appeals to workers of all ages; employers must be ready to appeal to older workers and identify what these candidates are looking for when they choose to stay in work earlier.

Flexibility is key here — many potential retirees would happily stay within the workforce for a reduction to part-time hours, or less manual labour — meaning an opportunity for this extensive knowledge to be taught to a younger generation in preparation for when these workers do decide to take a well-earned break. 

The Government’s Fuller Working Lives Strategy, launched in 2017, does not just look at getting older people into jobs. It challenges the perception of older workers being ‘written off’ once they reach a certain age — something which must be challenged by all, not just employers but recruiters too.

Many businesses are already adapting, and seeing the benefits that come with these changes.

However, it’s not just past experience which should be taken into account. As technology and AI has an ever-increasing impact, we must look to upskilling our workforce as they stay in work for longer. 6% of UK jobs are currently of a kind which did not exist in 1990 – and by 2030, almost 10% of labour demand is expected to be in roles which currently don’t exist.

There is a big opportunity for employers here, but recruiters must lead the way, avoiding the concept that new roles are only for the younger generation. Here at Acorn, we know that the landscape of our national workforce is changing - and with skills gaps being a large workforce issue, this is a subject which we cannot afford to ignore.

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