Altmann urges companies and governments across the world to recognise the value of older workers before it’s too late
Encouraging longer working lives gives higher lifetime incomes and greater economic growth for ageing populations
Rethink the social norms and revolutionise retirement – flexible later life work
Focus on the 3’R’s – “Retain, Retrain and Recruit” older workers
by Dr. Ros Altmann
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Ros Altmann, the UK Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers will today highlight the huge economic benefits that older workers can bring to the economy and to businesses. She will deliver the Robert Butler Memorial Lecture to an international audience in London calling on employers and policymakers across the world to ensure we make the best use of the valuable experience and skills that over 50s bring to the workforce.
She will urge use of the 3’R’s when thinking about older employees:
- Retain: Employers should objectively assess older workers’ skills and ensure they do not lose them too soon, including facilitating more flexible working in later life wherever possible.
- Retrain: Employers and governments should support ongoing lifelong learning and training in new skills for workers of all ages. In particular, training for those who have had heavy physical jobs so they can keep working in a different role.
- Recruit: HR departments, recruitment agencies and employers should take over-50s job applicants seriously and not dismiss them as ‘too old’.
Speaking ahead of the lecture, Dr Altmann said:
“We need a new mindset: one that accepts that chronological age does not determine ability to work. Most people are still fit and well at much older ages than before.
It is quite astonishing that the improvements in health and demographic realities have not fed through to labour market and retirement thinking.
Let’s stop wasting resources and embrace longer working lives, helping those below state pension age to stay engaged in the world of work, while also ensuring those who want to work beyond state pension age can continue to do so, perhaps part-time if they prefer. The best way for people to retire is gradually, rather than suddenly. They will be better off and so will everyone else.
This means establishing new social norms and revolutionising retirement – both vital elements for economic progress in the 21st century.”
Despite living longer lives, most people stop work at younger ages than in the 1950s. Dr Altmann will propose a reassessment of later life working and retirement as a means to ensure better incomes both individually and nationally. She warns that failing to make the most of the value of older people is a receipt for economic decline. She is calling for new attitudes to over 50s in the labour force, with employers and governments urged to:
Minister for Pensions Steve Webb MP said:
“In the past we were too quick to write people off in this country once they turned 50. The actions of this Government are helping turn the situation around but we must keep our foot on the accelerator.
Having extended the right to request flexible working and outlawed forced retirement, we are now pushing ahead with implementing our Fuller Working Lives initiative – challenging outdated stereotypes head on and showing businesses the benefits of having an age diverse workforce.”
Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK and co-President of the ILC-Global Alliance added:
“With the growth in the number of people aged 15-64 likely to slow over coming decades, businesses will be forced to put emphasis on recruiting older talent and ensuring lower levels of “brain drain” from their organisations. Businesses that anticipate and plan for these changes will be best prepared to flourish, while those that fail to prepare could struggle to survive and grow.”
Dr. Ros Altmann