‘Older and younger workers need to be encouraged back into the workforce’

The Institute for Employment Studies says more needs to be done to bring older workers, particularly older women, back into the labour market to address the skills shortage.

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Employers and policymakers need to do a lot more to get older workers who have dropped out of the workforce in the pandemic back to work to address the skills shortage, according to employment experts.

The Institute for Employment Studies says that while today’s Labour Market Statistics show record numbers of people started new jobs between July and September this year, as Covid restrictions eased, the number of vacancies has continued to rise and currently stands at 1.2 million and the number of unemployed people per vacancy has fallen even further, to just 1.3 people.

IES analysis suggests that the recruitment crisis is being driven by huge falls in labour market participation, mainly explained by more older people leaving work and fewer younger people entering from education, with lower migration explaining between a quarter and a third of the falls.   The IES estimates that there is a “participation gap” of 950 thousand, between the number of people in the labour market now and what would have been expected based on pre-crisis trends.  Just over half a million of this is explained by older people, and particularly older women who account for 300,000 of the gap.

IES Director Tony Wilson said the problems in the labour market are mainly being caused by older people who lost their jobs not going back to work and by younger people staying in education. He added: “These problems aren’t going to fix themselves in the near future, and we’re still doing nowhere near enough to help get people back into work, particularly for older workers, disabled people and parents.”



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