Thursday, 26 July 2012

Too much to lose: understanding and supporting Britain’s older workers

a research paper by Matthew Tinsley (Policy Exchange)

Executive Summary – opening paragraph

This report examines the position of over-50s in the UK labour market.

It outlines the large barriers to work that they face and highlights that the majority of these barriers remain unaddressed by government support. It argues that without reforms to address these issues, growth in the UK economy will be lower than it might otherwise be and, on average, the population of over-50s could see a fall in living standards.

Key headings:
  • Some progress but large problems remain
  • Older workers are key to the UK economy
  • Further regulation is unlikely to help
  • Better back-to-work support is needed
       Advisor flexibility
       Volunteering opportunities
       Personal budgets
  • Responsibilities must match rights
       Evidence of search
       Extending the work experience scheme
       Use of mandatory work activity
  • Political attitudes must recognise the importance of older workers
       Creation of The Job Contract
  • Extending (flexible) working lives
        Protected conversations
Executive Summary – Conclusion

This report outlines the vital importance of older workers in the economy. In order to maintain living standards, promote inclusion and health in our ageing population and drive growth in the economy we need to open up opportunities for older workers to increase their working lives. The report also outlines the severe personal and economic costs that unemployment can have on older workers and the difficulties faced by older job-seekers when they try to find work. The size of impacts involved, on both the part of the individual and the wider economy, mean that failing to tackle these problems is not an option.

The reforms we outline in this report ensure that older workers and older job-seekers are properly supported and encouraged. If implemented they would lead to a step change in the debate around the targeting of support and in the value we place on our older workforce. We propose measures to ensure that those already in work can approach their employers to discuss future working plans and that those out of work can get the support they need. On the part of older job-seekers, our proposals would require them to seek any work that is available, gain more experience, consider changing roles or sectors and take on all the support that is available to them. Most of all, our reforms would push the government to ensure that employment support is targeted by need and not by age and to promote the status of older workers in the UK economy. If the government fails to do this they risk letting down older workers and the country.

Without these reforms, and by focusing all of our attention on a potential “lost generation” of young people, we risk losing far more. Older workers are crucial to maximise UK economic capacity and hold vital experience and expertise. If we fail to support them, we might condemn a generation of older workers to far greater risks of poverty and declining living standards.

Full text (PDF 66pp)

No comments: