The Missing Million - Report 2

Executive Summary / Introduction

The case for working longer has never been stronger, yet – for far too many older people – the chance to enjoy meaningful employment in later life is denied. Despite an extensive body of knowledge on how to maximise the potential of the older worker and the business case for doing so, it appears that older workers are being failed at every turn.
This is reflected in our key findings:

  • Around one million people over 50 have been pushed out of work against their will and would like to beworking if the appropriate opportunities were available. In addition, a greater number of older peopleare becoming jobless than finding work.
  • Those who are able to find re-employment are more likely than younger people to end up in alternative roles to regular employment, such as self-employment and even unpaid work, but these positions may not actually fulfil their own desires or expectations.
  • Older people who do succeed at finding work are doing it primarily on their own, with limited or inappropriate support from services.
  • Many of the barriers that stand in the way of older people returning to work relate primarily to age, for example, in terms of health and care concerns in later life or the perpetuation of age-related stereotypes, and employers can play an important role in helping to change this situation in the future.

We found that among people aged 50-64 in the UK:

• The vast majority had no change in economic activity over a three-month period – but around half a million (4.5%) did experience a change of some kind, offering insights into the kinds of opportunities available to this group and the kinds of pathways they follow.

• The most frequent change was from employment to inactivity (29.5%), and overall a greater number of older people lost work than found it (45.4% versus 30.5%). In contrast, younger people (16-29) were more likely to find work, while both younger and middle-aged (30-49) people were more likely to be actively looking for work than older people.

• At the same time, older people who lose their job are just as likely as other age groups to look for another one, and around a quarter of older people who lost their job and became inactive would prefer to still be working. This means that, across the three-month period, around 38,000 people aged 50- 64 in the UK lost their job and did not look for work even though they had the desire to keep working, suggesting that older people feel a significant degree of discouragement with respect to their labour market prospects.

• Although more people ended up jobless, nearly a third of those who changed moved into employment from either unemployment or inactivity – around 161,000 people. Interestingly, a large proportion of these moved out of retirement.

The Full Story

This report is the second in a series examining the labour market challenges of people aged 50+ in the UK. A primary objective of this series is to provide an evidence-based platform to raise awareness of the particular challenges that older people face with respect to work in later life and to contribute practical and tangible policy ideas to help improve the situation for older people.

Take Action

The need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting and retaining older workers is crucially important for businesses. In particular, industries with a higher proportion of workers aged over 50 – including public administration, education and health, agriculture, forestry and fishing – will need to adapt their practices quickly to ensure they can retain and recruit the older workers who are fundamental to their workforce.
The Missing Million - Recommendations for Action
This document contains recommendations on how businesses and government can respond to an ageing workforce, examining the relevance of an ageing workforce in terms of public policy, the importance of an ageing workforce for businesses and how business and policy makers can respond.
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