Ros Altmann, the UK Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers urges employers and policymakers across the world to embrace the 3 ‘R’s when considering employment of older workers.
Dr Altmann delivered the message to an international audience in London when she presented the Robert Butler Memorial Lecture.
The lecture was organised by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) as part of a visit by the ILC Global Alliance to the UK.
Despite us living longer lives, average retirement ages are still below what they were in the 1950s. Dr Altmann will propose a reassessment of later life working and retirement.
She is calling for new attitudes to over 50s in the labour force, with employers and governments urged to:
1) Retain: Employers should objectively assess older workers’ skills and ensure they do not lose them too soon, including facilitating more flexible working in later life wherever possible.
2) Retrain: Employers and governments should support ongoing lifelong learning and training in new skills for workers of all ages. In particular, training for those who have had heavy physical jobs so they can keep working in a different role.
3) Recruit: HR departments, recruitment agencies and employers should take over-50s job applicants seriously and not dismiss them as ‘too old’.
Speaking ahead of the lecture, Dr Altmann said:
“We need a new mindset: one that accepts that chronological age does not determine ability to work. Most people are still fit and well at much older ages than before.
It is quite astonishing that the improvements in health and demographic realities have not fed through to the labour market and retirement thinking.
We need to stop wasting resources and embrace longer working lives, helping those below state pension age to stay engaged in the world of work, while also ensuring those who want to work beyond state pension age can continue to do so, perhaps part-time if they want. The best way for people to retire is gradually, rather than suddenly.
This means establishing new social norms and revolutionising retirement – both vital elements for economic progress in the 21st century.”
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb MP said:
“In the past we were too quick to write people off in this country once they turned 50. The actions of this Government are helping turn the situation around but we must keep our foot on the accelerator.
Having extended the right to request flexible working and outlawed forced retirement, we are now pushing ahead with implementing our Fuller Working Lives initiative – challenging outdated stereotypes head on and showing businesses the benefits of having an age diverse workforce.”
Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK and co-President of the ILC-Global Alliance added:
“With the growth in the number of people aged 15-64 likely to slow over coming decades, businesses will be forced to put emphasis on recruiting older talent and ensuring lower levels of “brain drain” from their organisations. Businesses that anticipate and plan for these changes will be best prepared to flourish, while those that fail to prepare could struggle to survive and grow.”