Employers using migrant workers to help plug UK skills gap instead of training older staff

Employers are using migrant workers to ‘cushion’ the impact of the skills shortage, rather than train the UK’s older workers, according to a leading employment charity.

The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), which campaigns for an effective job market for 50- to 70-year-olds, warned that the UK was relying too heavily on migrant staff to fill skills gaps and not developing the existing older workforce.

Official government figures last month revealed that of the 2.1 million new jobs created since 1997, 52% had gone to foreign workers.

TAEN claimed that despite 50- to 64-year-olds representing one-third of working-age people, just one-fifth were in employment, and only one in 10 was enrolled on employer or government training programmes.

Chris Ball, TAEN chief executive, told Personnel Today: “The UK hasn’t led as dynamically as it could do to encourage employers to use their older workers.”

Professor Sarah Harper, of the Oxford Institute of Ageing, which undertakes research on age, added: “In health and social care, there is some truth that employers still rely on migrant workers to cover skills. But in other sectors, the UK has never targeted overseas migrants for skills.

“Both government and companies are increasingly recognising they are going to have to retain older workers.”

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