More than a million people over 50 have been involuntarily pushed out of the workplace and harnessing the potential of this ‘missing million’ could lead to an £88 billion boost to UK GDP, according to a new report published by The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME), now part of the charity Business in the Community.
There are currently 3.3 million economically inactive people aged between 50 and 64 in the UK and the over 50s have a higher rate of long term unemployment than any other age group.
The report explores the employment challenges facing older workers and calls for urgent action from policy makers and employers to ensure people over 50 remain in the labour market.
It found that up to 1.5 million people aged 50-69 ‘involuntarily’ left employment over the last eight years due to a combination of redundancy, ill health or ‘forced’ early retirement and of these, 1.1 million people would be willing to work.
Furthermore, if the employment rate of this 50-64 age group matched that of the 35-49 age group, this would boost UK GDP by £88 billion (5.6%).
Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said: “There are a significant number of over 50s who would be willing to work if the right opportunity arose but we are failing to harness their potential.
Business in the Community believes that business has a responsibility to create a sustainable economy and vibrant local communities. The report makes a number of recommendations for business to reduce the likelihood of this group leaving the labour market too early, such as:
- Encourage good health in the workforce and develop tailored health based support packages for the over 50s
- Ensure older people receive ongoing training and support and opportunities to engage with new technologies;
- Provide a full range of progressive flexible options to meet the needs of older workers including compressed working, job share, self-rostering, working from home and split shifts.
Alongside PRIME’s existing work on enterprise, Business in the Community is committed to a new strand of work developing innovative workplace solutions to extending working lives and making the most of intergenerational workplaces.
Are you one of those who are willing to work, but struggling to find employment? Please do let us know your views on these issues raised in this report. Ed.