Report highlights risks of leaving older workers behind on skills training

A new report highlights the need for more upskilling of older workers.

Older man and younger woman looking at a computer


Employees aged over 55 are at the highest risk of missing out on formal skills training, according to a new study by the City & Guilds Group.

This means they may end up with outdated skills and finding it less easy to find a job, the annual City & Guilds Skills Index says.

When asked whether they had undertaken any workplace training over the last five years, only half (53 per cent) had done so.

This compares to over two-thirds (67 per cent) of 35–54-year-olds and over four in five (83 per cent) of 18–34-year-olds. Thirty eight per cent of over 55s said they had had no formal workplace training for at least 10 years, if at all.

Forty seven per cent think they have all the skills necessary to succeed at work, yet only a fifth (20 per cent) are planning to retire soon. While over half of businesses (54 per cent) cite having problems with finding recruits with the correct skills, just 14 per cent have considered recruiting or retraining older workers or retirees to tackle skills shortages.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group, said: “We are all living longer, healthier lives than previous generations, meaning more people will also need to work until they are at least 70 to ensure they have enough saved to retire. But with the pace of change in businesses only exacerbated by the pandemic – and the data painting a clear picture of chronic under-investment in training older, more experienced workers – we risk consigning a generation of valuable workers to the scrapheap, just when many industries are crying out for more workers post Brexit and as we unlock society after the pandemic.

“And, with many older workers impacted by the pandemic, we also need to create opportunities for them to re-enter the workplace, for instance through flexible work or training that fits around their responsibilities. Ultimately, if we don’t keep on investing in our workforce throughout their lives, recognising their value right through to retirement, older workers will not to be able to contribute effectively to their employers and the economy in years to come. And this is something we simply can’t afford.”

The report underscores that five-decade careers mean the need for “a new more radical approach to lifelong learning”, supported by employers, individuals and Government. It calls for better use of data to enable government, employers and individuals to plan for future skills needs and for making the skills system more accessible to smaller businesses.

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