New competition aims to drive innovation in multigenerational workforces

The ILC UK has launched a new international programme to discover innovative ideas about how to promote more multigenerational, inclusive workforces.

Group of varying age women sitting chatting and smiling


The International Longevity Centre UK [ILC] has launched a new international programme of work to identify the challenges and innovations to respond to an ageing workforce.

It will focus on four key areas:

  • Promoting health
  • Creating opportunities
  • Ensuring diversity
  • Offering flexibility

Over the coming year, the ILC UK will also be talking to policymakers, employers and HR experts across the world about the need to adapt the workplace to an ageing workforce, before launching its international innovations competition in early 2021. A global panel of expert judges will judge and award the best innovations from employers, HR professionals and start-ups that respond to an ageing workforce.

The threat of Covid-19

The programme, which is supported by IRC4HR, was launched in an online webinar last week. Speakers spoke of the threat that Covid-19 would make older workers feel they had to retire early. They spoke of how the statistics showed the growing importance of the over 50s in the workforce and said innovative ways of promoting a multigenerational, inclusive workforce were needed.

Jodi Starkman, Chief Executive of the Innovation Resource Centre for Human Resources spoke of the need for inclusive design and how technology was way ahead of society’s ability to address the changes it was bringing. Covid-19 was both a trigger and accelerator of change, she said.

She stated: “Our research programmes reflect a belief that when you design work and work environments that are inclusive, everyone benefits. The challenges of an ageing workforce in the midst of a global pandemic provide some unique opportunities to experiment with new ideas. An inclusive innovation competition is a creative and scalable vehicle for identifying solutions and changing the narrative around what is possible. We are excited to be supporting ILC in this important work.”

Promoting multigenerational workforces

Caroline Waters OBE, Chair, Equality and Human Rights Commission, said ways needed to be found to promote a multigenerational, inclusive workforce. She said: “The G7 has a deepening dependency for growth on the continued involvement of workers aged over 55. The same group that has been disproportionately impacted by restrictions imposed by the COVID 19 lockdown and long-term health outcomes. To prevent more, older workers being frozen out of the global workforce we must break the emerging correlation between age and vulnerability that drives denial of rights and services and reduces our capability as a nation and an economy.”

According to research by the ILC, in the UK alone, the share of the workforce aged 50 and over rose from 26% in 2004 to 32% in 2018 and is projected to rise to 37% by 2040. This trend is mirrored all across the G20.

Lily Parsey, Global Policy and Influencing Manager at ILC, said: “Harnessing the potential of workers of all ages will be crucial in the post-pandemic recovery and could deliver a significant longevity dividend to economies across the world.

“Our analysis found that older workers already earn 30% of total earnings in the UK and this could rise to 40% (or £311 bn) by 2040.

“But too often, barriers like poor health, caring responsibilities or ageism in the workplace shut older workers out of the job market. In the UK, about a million workers between 50-64 are forced out of the labour market early due to health and care needs or caring responsibilities.

“With an ageing workforce, we need to fundamentally rethink the way we work, learn and live. Especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

*For more information on the Work for Tomorrow programme click here.

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