The gap between the employment rate of 50- to 64-year-olds and under-50s may be at its narrowest in 25 years as the proportion of older workers grows far more rapidly.
New analysis of Office for National Statistics figures by jobs website Rest Less, also suggested that employment rate among the 50-64 age group has increased from 56% in 1992 to 72% in 2018. The employment rate of 16-49s in contrast has grown much less, from 73% in 1992 to 78% today.
Supporting older workers
Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said the employment rate of 16-49s had always been significantly higher than the older age group but “the proportion of 50-64 year olds in work … is quickly gaining ground on the 16-49s.”
He suggested that the rising state pension age coupled with the move away from the security of final salary pension schemes was forcing many people to work for many years longer than they might have planned. In addition, there was now wider appreciation of the health, social and wellbeing benefits of remaining in work for longer.
Lewis added: “The implications of the rising numbers of 50-64 year olds in the workplace are vast and with future population growth coming almost entirely from the over 50s, employers who find ways to actively attract and retain this talented and hard working section of the workforce will be those that thrive over the coming decades.”
For Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, the improvement in the rate had benefits beyond those pertaining to individuals. He said: “We know that improving employment rates for over-50s will unlock huge benefits for the UK’s economy, as well as helping people stay financially secure in later life.”
He added, however, that over-50s still too often faced barriers when it came to getting the kind of work they wanted and returning to the workforce after a career break and called on employers to play a more substantial role in closing the employment gap. He said: “Crucially, tackling ageism in the recruitment process will prevent employers from missing out on the skills and experience of older workers.”
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