Rise in older people in work

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People in the UK are working longer than before, but businesses are struggling to accommodate this rise.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week said the proportion of economically active 65-74 year olds almost doubled between 2001 and 2011, with 16% now in this category, up from 8.7%. This means 413,000 people are working longer.

The figures also showed a 2% decrease of 65-74 year olds in retirement, at 81% down from 83% in 2001. In addition, 3.6% of those 75 and over were working in 2011 – 158,000 people.

The ONS said key factors in this trend may be: “increased life expectancy, the removal of compulsory retirement age, the increase in flexible working patterns, and economic pressures leading to rising living costs”.

However, professional services company Towers Watson said companies need to do more to engage older workers.

Yves Duhaldeborde, director of employee surveys at Towers Watson said: “The sharp increase in older workers has led to a large proportion of employees with over 40 years’ experience. With no default retirement age a significant proportion of the growing over-65 population will continue to want, or need, to work. These older workers can add huge value to organisations in terms of experience and skills but problems can arise when companies are ill-prepared to meet the needs of this group of workers, who may require more flexibility in their working life.”

He said there can be huge business benefits to exploring how the positive attitudes and reliability that older employees bring can be channelled to create competitive edge and improve business performance.

The ONS predicted that the trend is likely to continue as the age for women’s state pension eligibility comes in line with men’s by 2018.

In total, 9 out of 10 residents of England and Wales aged 65 and over were economically inactive in 2011. The bulk of those (86%) were retired, with a further 3.6% called as ‘other inactive’. This includes people looking after home or family, long term sick or disabled, or students.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/netmonkey/

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