Hidden in plain sight: BITC report highlights ‘missing million’ in UK labour market

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BITC report claims that retaining older workers could potentially boost the UK economy by £88 billion

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and a three part report published by Business in the Community (BITC), just over a million people aged 50 or over have been pushed out of work involuntarily and are actively looking to return to the workplace. The report claims that these ‘missing million’ older workers could potentially boost the UK economy by £88 billion, if they were able to stay in work for longer.

This number is steadily rising, due to reasons including redundancy, ill health, early retirement and most significantly unconscious bias and discrimination, with age still considered a ‘taboo’ subject in the workplace.

With an ageing population on track for approximately 19 million people over the age of 65 by 2050, BITC’s three part ‘Missing Million’ report series highlights the value of older workers, making recommendations to Government and responsible employers at a time when there is much discussion and growing business engagement in how we can all collectively support longer working lives.

Building on the progress older worker business champion Dr. Ros Altmann has made, working tirelessly to promote the fuller working lives message, the report highlights the fact that the first person to live to 150 has already been born and that we cannot continue to write off workers who have so much more to contribute. With State Pension Age (SPA) due to rise to 66 by 2020, as gatekeepers to employment and people’s livelihood, businesses and recruitment agencies have a very significant part to play in bringing forward much-needed change, embracing the exponential benefits of a multi-generational workforce and age diversity. With so many older workers locked out of the labour market, they hold the key to letting them back in.

BITC’s Age at Work campaign, to which their ‘missing million’ report series is central. shares an aligned vision with the fuller working lives message; the time to build a strong, competitive economy that provides support and opportunities for all its members, is now.

Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK), commented, “Older people today provide so much to society in a variety of ways, and the knowledge and skills they possess offer a massive potential for the world of work.”

“The research that has gone into The Mission Million reports underscores the importance of action in changing the way that older people are able to identify opportunities in the labour market and make successful contributions within the field of work. “Business in the Community has contributed through the development of recommendation that Government and business can consider as they continue to craft solutions to the challenges around an ageing workforce”.

Sharing an ethos of championing employment opportunities for all, social enterprise de Poel Community has been working closely with BITC to promote the longer working lives message to employers and recruitment agencies. Janice Henson, Managing Director of de Poel Community, comments: “Through this research, Business in the Community and ILC-UK are proving just how simple the process really is to nurture an inter-generational workforce, in a business of any size, in any sector.

“It is about addressing misconceptions, instilling confidence in line managers, consistency in key policies and a nurturing a flexible, supportive workplace, where all workers are provided with training and targeted development opportunities.

“For any organisation – whether you are an SME or large-blue chip, local or UK wide, operating in the private, public or third sector – you can make a huge difference in the recruitment and retention of your older employees. Through the work de Poel Community is doing, we are seeing some inspiring instances of companies that are celebrating the inclusion of older workers, and we can certainly learn from their experiences.”

The launch of ‘The Missing Million’ report series has been supported by events in London and Manchester. The campaign continues in its mission to encourage recruiters and employers to share their success stories and best practice in how to recruit, retain and develop a multi-generational workforce. To see ‘The Missing Million’ reports in full, visit www.bitc.org.uk/age.

 

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