Unfinished Business: Barriers and opportunities for older workers
Giselle Cory: 8th August 2012
The UK could miss a historic opportunity to boost employment among the over 50s. This new analysis finds that the UK ranks 15th out of 34 OECD countries, for older workers, lagging the five top countries by over fifteen percentage points. Closing this gap would mean around 1.5 million more people in work.
The report argues that there is a strong desire for longer working lives and a strong need, particularly for those on low to middle incomes. It notes that:
• 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
• Older women face particular barriers to work, with only 60 per cent of older women employed versus 72 per cent of older men and a large gender pay gap.
The report argues that planned increases in the state pension age are a step in the right direction, increasing financial incentives for older workers to remain in employment, particularly for women. But it warns that 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.
The study identifies six key barriers which need to be overcome to support greater employment amongst the over 50s:
- Lack of adequate financial incentives to remain in, or return to, work
- Significant caring responsibilities
- Lack of employment support to move back into work, including training
- Limited access to flexible working opportunities
- Continued prevalent age discrimination
- Poor health