Friday, March 20, 2009

United Kingdom: How Age Diversity Can Help Business during Downturn

Nicola Brewer, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom's Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that employers who retain the skills and experience of older workers will be better placed to emerge from the recession. Speaking at a one-day conference organized by the Commission and the Age and Employment Network on "Age Diversity in the Downturn," she lso argued that the economic downturn should not be used as an excuse to justify redundancy on the grounds of age.
"We already have more people in the UK over state pension age than under 16, and, within 15 years, a third of the workforce will be over 50. Embracing the skills of older workers should be a top priority--unless we are prepared to miss out on a third of the available talent pool."
Her words were echoed by The Commission's Policy Director Alan Christie, Policy Director at the Commission, who said "We must stop stereotyping and worrying about how many candles a worker has on their next birthday cake, instead of looking at what they can offer. It's important to recognise that flexibility can help business weather the difficult times and prepare for the recovery, by attracting and retaining vital talent and skills, including older workers."

Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission News Release (March 20, 2009)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

United Kingdom: Study Finds Lack of Training and Learning Opportunities for Older Workers

The University of Leicester's Centre for Labour Market Studies has released a study with a stark warning about the lack of training and learning opportunities for older workers. The report--"Older Workers – Older Learners"--prepared for the Learning and Skills Council East Midlands shows "show the lack of preparedness that the region and society as a whole have towards the ageing of our workforce and of society more generally. Yet the ageing workforce is one of the more valuable assets a business can have."

According to Dr. Vanessa Beck, who led the project, while it was disappointing to find the lack of preparedness and the extent to which learning and training opportunities were taken up, "it was surprising to see that on an individual and organisational level, there are a whole host of practices in place that can benefit older workers as well as the organisations that employ them."
Practices and policies already in place that could, in some form, benefit older workers include flexible working; Apprenticeships enabling them to move into different areas of work; structured learning and training supported by the Train to Gain service, Skills Pledge, Skills Accounts, and Foundation Degrees accrediting expertise older learners already have; reward systems; and positive age awareness management.

Older workers are valued for their experience and expertise, knowledge which can be passed on to younger colleagues either formally through apprenticeship assessment or informally as mentors in the workplace.
Source: University of Leicester Press Release (March 10, 2009)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Insurance Group Recommends Making Workplace Modications to Prevent Injuries to Older Workers

According to a new white paper by the PMA Companies, older workers are a benefit to the companies that employ them, but injuries to older adults tend to be of higher severity. Thus, U.S. companies should consider making workplace modifications that prevent injuries.

"Capitalizing on an Aging Workforce," authored by Ken Nogan, Risk Control Consultant at PMA Insurance Group, reports that since 1977, the number of people 65 and older in the workforce has increased more than 100%. Contrary to expectations, however, as over-55 workers increase in the workplace, so does productivity and overall workplace safety. However, the paper finds that, when older workers do experience injuries, severity can be significant, which is an issue that must be considered by safety professionals. Specific recommendations were made to help implement risk control measures designed for the needs of older workers, including:
  • Slip and fall prevention: Falls alone account for more than one-third of all injuries sustained by workers 65 and older, and it takes an older worker two to three times longer to recover from an injury than a younger counterpart.
  • Safe driving: Death rates for work-related roadway crashes increase steadily beginning at around age 55, and older drivers are more likely than other drivers to have a crash at an intersection or when merging or changing lanes on a highway.
  • Return to work: Because claim statistics reflect a connection between increased healing time and age, there is a need for highly responsive return to work efforts for older workers.
Source: PMA Companies News Release (March 4, 2009)