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Skill shortage warning as mass exodus of older workers continues…

CIPD report urges HR to think strategically about future workforce planningAction Concept

With as much as 30 per cent of the UK’s current workforce expected to retire in the next 20 years, the CIPD has warned of a “mass exodus of skills” unless HR acts now.

According to analysis of the government’s Labour Force Surveys in 2014, 9.4 million workers in the UK today are over the age of 50. However, the employment rate for workers between the age of 53 and 67 years old has dropped by 64 per cent in the past few years.

This means that the UK economy could struggle to fill as many as one million jobs by 2035, unless organisations invest more in the recruitment, development and retention of older workers, the joint report from the CIPD and International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) said.

“Too many employers are sleep-walking towards a significant skills problem that risks derailing their business strategy if not addressed,” said Ben Willmott head of public policy at the CIPD.

“Not enough organisations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even know enough about the make-up of their workforce,” he added.

According to the report, the health and social work, education, public administration, manufacturing, construction and transport, and storage sectors are most at risk of skills shortages, with around a third or more of their existing workforces aged over 50.

Willmott said employers should be thinking about how they can transfer older workers’ knowledge to other parts of the business when they retire.

“It is increasingly in employers’ interests to think about how they can support the health and well-being of their staff and provide more flexible working opportunities to allow older workers to downshift and benefit from more gradual transitions into retirement if that is what they want,” he said.

As well as equipping line managers with an understanding of older employees’ needs, employers must continue to invest in people’s training and development at different stages of their careers, he added.

Minister for pensions and former champion for older workers, Ros Altmann, said: “Employers need to realise what they stand to lose if they fail to give opportunities to older staff. Not only could they miss out on the wealth of experience that having a diverse workforce can offer, but they also risk losing a large chunk of their workers – and valuable skills – over a short period of time, as this study shows.

“Ensuring all employees and new applicants are considered on their merits is vital, especially given the demographic challenges that our economy faces. I hope employers will remain open-minded to recruiting and training older staff, as well as considering the benefits of flexible working. This is important for older workers but it is also important for the future of our economy,” she added.


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