Wednesday, August 08, 2012

United Kingdom: Action Needed To Improve Older Workers Employment Gap

The Resolution Foundation has issued a report suggesting that the United Kingdom may be missing a historic opportunity to boost employment among the over 50s. The UK ranks 15th out of 34 OECD countries, for older workers, lagging the five top countries for by over fifteen percentage points, and closing this gap would mean around 1.5 million more people in work. According to "Unfinished Business: Barriers and opportunities for older workers," authored by Giselle Cory, planned increases in the state pension age are a step in the right direction, but without parallel reforms to tackle the other barriers to older employment, the change will hinder rather than help some older women who are unable to find or keep employment.

In particular, the report identifies six key barriers which need to be overcome to support greater employment amongst the over 50s:
  1. lack of adequate financial incentives to remain in, or return to, work;
  2. significant caring responsibilities;
  3. lack of employment support to move back into work, including training;
  4. limited access to flexible working opportunities
  5. continued prevalent age discrimination; and
  6. poor health.
The UK should attack these because there is a strong desire for longer working lives and a strong need, particularly for those on low to middle incomes. Among other things, most pension saving takes place after age 50 and only one in four is currently saving enough to retire at state pension age; two out of three older workers say they want to continue working up to or past pensionable age; and older women face particular barriers to work, with only 60% of older women employed versus 72% of older men and a large gender pay gap.

Source: Resolution Foundation Press Release (August 8, 2012)

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