Report Calls on EU to Maximise Potential of Older Workers

A new report from the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) has identified a number of key priorities for European governments who want to increase levels of participation amongst older workers.

Working Longer: An EU Perspective, examines how the European Union and its member states have responded to the working longer agenda and what policies are currently in place to support older people to stay in work up to state pension age and beyond.

The report argues that older people have been affected by the economy crisis and as such, governments need to invest additional resources into tackling ageism and creating age-appropriate jobs for the older workforce. Up-skilling the older workforce, supporting more older women in work and improving health are just some of the priorities identified in the report.

The report highlights that:

  • Demographic change will create a significant skills gap across Europe.
  • EU membership has matched the growth in participation of older workers, with new member states seeing the biggest growth in participant of older workers over the past decade.
  • Across Europe, incentives to retire early have been gradually removed, whilst state pension ages have begun to increase.
  • Governments have not met an EU target set in 2001 to achieve 50 per cent employment rate of older workers by 2010.

The report also identifies a number of key actions that should be prioritised by EU governments:

  • Taking a life course approach to support workers.
  • Making better use of fiscal incentives to delay retirement.
  • Increasing the number of age-appropriate jobs for the ageing workforce.
  • Addressing the age and gender inequalities faced by the older workforce.

Report co-author and Assistant Director of Policy and Communications at ILC-UK, David Sinclair said: “Europe’s economy is driven by the skills and talents of its people. As our society ages, it will therefore be increasingly important to make the most of the potential of older workers.

“Yet few European Governments have got to grips with the challenges of an older workforce. We must not however, pitch one generation against another. European policymakers must focus on tackling the barriers to employability across the life course.

“Flexible working and opportunities for people of all ages to develop their skills are vital. We must tackle ageism whilst also offering older people the opportunity to retire gradually. Governments across Europe must better evaluate initiatives and share their successes with their colleagues”.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Pensions Minister, Steve Webb MP said:
“There are more older people in work than ever before, despite difficult economic conditions. Back in 2011 we took action so that older people were no longer discriminated against by abolishing the default retirement age.

“I am determined that more employers will make the most of the talents and experience of older workers.”

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