Ageing workforce threatens productivity levels

An ageing workforce and higher rates of chronic disease will pose a serious threat to the productivity of British businesses by 2030, health insurance firm Bupa has forecast.

It has predicted that in the next 20 years the number of workers with diabetes or respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, will increase by at least 7% to more than four million.

The incidence of mental illness in the workforce will rise by 5% to affect 4.2 million workers.

In the same period, the average age of the workforce will rise to 43, while 68 will become the average age of retirement by 2050.

This is likely to increase rates of major disease in the workforce, with musculoskeletal diseases rising by 8% to affect more than seven million people, and heart disease up by 11% to affect more than one million, it predicted.

Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director for Bupa UK Health Insurance, said: “For the first time, we have a clear picture of the major health issues that will affect British workers over the next 20 years.

“We know they will be older and sicker, with millions working with long-term diseases.”

The report is the first phase of a two-part study, with the second phase due out later this year and intended to provide a road map for employers of the types of workplace health services they are likely to need in the future.

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