Taking positive action for older workers

Jill Salter from BITC’s Age at Work programme tells workingwise.co.uk about how they are helping older workers and working with employers to create more multigenerational workforces that work for everyone.


Read about National Older Workers Week

By 2030 half of all adults in the UK will be over 50, so recruiting, retaining and retraining people over 50 older is essential for business and the wider economy. Business in the Community and Age partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are working with employers to take action now that prevents employee early exit from the workplace, supports later-life working, and values older workers as part of a diverse, inclusive and dynamic workplace. Through Age at Work, employers have access to a range of free toolkits, networks and support to help inform the action they take to create a workplace that works better for mature employees and will benefit employees of all ages. Jill Salter, Age at Work programme manager for BITC Cmyru, outlines what they do.

We’re all living longer, which means the majority of us will be working for longer too and, with an ageing demographic across the UK, employers need to prepare for this demographic shift and take action now.

As the age at which people can draw their pensions rises and pensions fail to match the rising cost of lliving, many people are likely to need to work later in life. On the positive side, many may still want to work, if the conditions are right to do so, and this is where Age at Work comes in.

Age at Work aims to help employers to understand the business and social benefits of recruiting, retraining and retaining people aged 50+ and to support those individuals to think about what they want from work and to prepare for their future.

Mature workers are skilled and bring experience, knowledge and a different perspective to the workplace. Businesses are recognising that it’s crucial to continue to invest in the development of staff over 50, to ensure recruitment practices don’t alienate this cohort, to provide training opportunities and, in some circumstances, make reasonable adjustments to support older staff with caring responsibilities and health issues so that they can retain knowledgeable, valuable colleagues.

Perceived discrimination

A recent piece of research carried out by Business in the Community Cymru and Swansea University about the perceptions of older workers showed that what older workers perceive often doesn’t match up with what employers perceive, with employers significantly less likely to think that they discriminate against older workers. Indeed, the research highlighted that some of those who say they don’t discriminate often don’t have any policies in place on flexible working or caring or other policies that older workers might need.

Age at Work can help employers identify these gaps and take positive action to address key issues affecting older workers, such as menopause, flexible working policies, caring responsibilities and age-inclusive recruitment, to name a few. Employers can benefit from a range of helpful resources and toolkits, assessment tools, and networking opportunities and online career and life-planning webinars are available for individuals, all for free, thanks to the funding we receive from the National Lottery Community Fund.

*Although the Age at Work programme is only delivered in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, nationally BITC also offers a range of age-related resources to help employers develop more age-inclusive workplaces where employees of all ages can thrive. You can find out more at www.bitcni.org.uk/age.

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