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Employers need to step up support for working carers

Older workers are more productive than Millennials

With people living longer and fewer young people entering the labour market, Britain’s employers are increasingly reliant on the skills and talents of older workers to boost productivity. However, the ageing population also means there will be an estimated nine million carers in the UK by 2037, many of whom will be trying to juggle both care and employment.

This is according to new research released today by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. It finds that although the UK’s policy framework for supporting older workers and creating fuller working lives is well-developed in comparison to many other European countries, there is a crucial need to turn this thinking into practical action from organisations to avoid losing the skills and experience of employees who choose to work beyond retirement. With around 30% of the UK workforce currently over 50 compared to 20% in the 1990s, the CIPD is urging employers to put the tools and culture in place now, to support older workers as they represent and increasingly significant proportion of the labour market.

The CIPD’s report is being launched today by Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Minister of State for Pensions and former Government Business Champion for Older Workers. It explores employer practice towards older workers across five European countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany and the UK. It found that those in the group age 40+ and 50+ face the greatest care demands, but are also key to the labour force due to their experience. The CIPD is warning that the economy cannot afford to lose them, so it is up to employers to create attractive working situations, which take into account these external responsibilities and enable people to stay in work.

As well as more support for working carers, all five countries recognised a growing need to address the wider issue of how to optimise older workers’ active participation in the labour market and support increasingly extended working lives. Older workers still experience prejudice from employers, colleagues and society in general, with stereotypical attitudes often reflecting misconceptions about their flexibility, health, ability to learn and their general skills and qualification levels. The research shows the scope for creating more age-inclusive workplaces in the UK – indeed, CIPD research has shown that employees value working in an age-diverse organisation, with benefits such as knowledge sharing, enhanced customer experience and different perspectives.