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UK pension age likely to rise again

The outcomes of John Cridland’s consultation on state pension age (SPA) have been widely reported in the press over the last week.  This review aimed to look at issues of affordability, fairness (particularly in terms of life expectancy) and understanding issues of early exit from the labour market by those in their 60’s.

The results reported in the press to date focus primarily on the need to increase the SPA quicker than currently planned and a view that the so-called ‘triple lock’ on pensions should be removed in the next parliament (see for example this coverage in the Guardian).

Current plans to raise SPA focus on an increase (for both men and women) to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and then to 68 between 2044 and 2046.  This review suggests the increase to 68 is brought forward to between 2037 and 2039, and a subsequent rise to 70 would then be considered.

There is much focus in the report on ‘intergenerational fairness’ in terms of the outcomes but although there is detailed consideration of  factors impacting health and life expectancy at this stage it is not clear how these feature in terms of the recommendations made for changes to SPA.  The report includes some discussion about funding benefits for those most in need but this is an area that requires more clarity and discussion.

Upcoming event: LSE/TAEN seminar on Ageing, Older Workers and Migration

We have blogged recently on a couple of stories about the possible effects of new immigration policies on both sides of the Atlantic on particular industries (like hospitality) with a focus on younger and older workers. This is just one aspect of the post-Brexit world that we’re grappling with.

So the next LSE/TAEN seminar may be of interest to readers of this blog. The topic will be Ageing, Older Workers and Migration.  This promises to explore some of the issues that will arise after triggering article 50. This might include pension benefits, movement of people, and the ‘portability’ of social rights.

The seminar will be held on Thursday 27 April 2017 from 2 to 5pm in the Graham Wallace Room, 5th floor, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE.

The speakers will be Professor Robert Holzmann and Dr Martin Hyde

  • Robert Holzmann is currently honorary professor at the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpour) and at the University of New South Wales (Sydney). His work focuses on several issues relating to ageing, the labour market and social protection.
  • Dr. Martin Hyde is Associate Professor in Gerontology at Swansea University, Centre for Innovative Ageing. His work focuses on different issues including the quality of life in early old age, life course perspectives and ageing and globalisation.

For more information about the seminar please see this link

If you wish to attend this seminar please contact Chris Ball direct (rather than on the sign-up form on the web page).

A mini round-up on the latest on age discrimination at work

I noticed a lot of items in our alerts about age discrimination over the last week. Here’s a handy round-up of them.

The Telegraph reported the findings of a study by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University. It was led by Dr Nick Drydakis, an economist, and was commissioned by the official magazine of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The researchers carried out an experiment in which they used a series of carefully constructed CVs in respect of applicants aged 28 and 50 who had the same level of qualification and otherwise almost identical skills and interests. The older applicants’ Cvs showed more experience. Over a period of two years, they used these to apply for more than 1,800 jobs. The younger candidates were 4.2 times more likely to be offered an interview than the older applicants. There was also a gender effect: younger men were 3.6 times more likely to get an interview than their older rivals while among women the gap was 5.3 times.

A similar style of study is also reported in the Business Insider this time conducted in the USA. The academic who ran the study is Patrick Button, Professor at Tulane University in New Orleans. The research team (also economists) created about 40,000 fictitious applications and submitted them online for 13,000 lower-skilled jobs as sales people, administrative assistants, security guards and janitors. These jobs were selected because they are “common jobs that older workers actually get hired in”, the so-called “bridge jobs” that appeal to older workers as they near the end of their working life but still want and need to stay in paid work. The results apparently showed evidence that women experience age discrimination in hiring, and that the inequity intensifies with age.

The Actuary reports a survey commissioned by SunLife in which almost 40% of people aged 50 and over report having experienced age discrimination, with 62% of those believing they have lost out on a job because of it. The survey asked abut experiences across different aspects of life: so while the workplace was found to be the most likely scene of such discrimination, people also reported age discrimination in shops, while driving, in bars and restaurants, and on public transport.

Clearly legislation against age discrimination (while an essential step) does not on its own solve the issue and lived experience of ageism at work. It’s interesting how these studies and surveys were generated by economists and financial institutions (rather than, for example, work psychologists). Does this indicate a move towards the development of the ‘business case’ argument against age discrimination (as opposed to a rights-based equality discourse)? These aren’t of course mutually exclusive.

Career websites with in built age bias?

Illinois attorney general has warned a number of online career search companies about inbuilt age bias.  Reported recently in the Chicago Tribune  five US national companies have been warned about the inbuilt bias of drop down selection links that relate to setting up details of education and previous employment.  On one website the earliest possible date a use could select was 1980 for education.    However previously in relation to the cut off dates provided for employment categories, recruitment companies have justified the use of such dates as in the users best interest so that they profiles contain only their most recent and relevant work experience.  Indeed there is also an argument that doing away with dates for some categories such as education could be advantageous to older job seekers as it avoids indirectly declaring your age.




The contested nature of #retirement in the 21st century

Retirement as a concept is certainly being challenged and contested. Is it still meaningful? Has retirement become a luxury that only the wealthy can afford? Is it experienced differently by men and women? Does it involve (paid) working?

The Guardian’s ongoing series ‘the new retirement’ by Amelia Hill is looking at the changing nature of retirement and people’s hopes, fears, plans and experiences. This has featured – for example – an article exploring its meaning for five Yorkshire women all at different stages of approaching retirement, what it takes to achieve a successful and fulfilling retirement (‘a budget, good friends, a plan’) as well as an exploration of the history of ‘retirement’ which might point to more flexible notions of retirement age.

Elsewhere in online news, retirement crops up in wider discussions of age at work. This article on the AOL website, declares that ‘early retirement is dead – unless you have one of these jobs’. For the record, these are said to be:

Sportsperson; Soldier; Police Officer; Air Traffic Controller or Firefighter.

What these roles have in common is a requirement of high or peak fitness (mental and/or physical) related to job performance which mean these occupations also have actual or de facto mandatory retirement ages.  We have featured stories about these occupations on the blog – sometimes it’s been a case of individuals who have maintained fitness levels then challenging these mandatory retirement rules (e.g. Kevin Fulthorpe); othertimes it’s been collective action to prevent retirement age being increased (e.g. firefighters).  The thrust of the article is that it might be worth thinking about these jobs simply because of the early retirement (and pension) entitlement. Will we see these issues featuring in careers advice in the future? The retirement debate looks set to continue.

State Pension Age – @WASPI_Campaign women’s protest and more

Yesterday was International Women’s Day which was marked in many ways including a mass demonstration in London by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). We have blogged before on this issue. Their latest action was a protest outside Parliament about the lack of information given to them about their pensions and to raise awareness of the difficulties that this is causing for those affected. Women from different parts of the UK  including from Scotland, Manchester, the North East, and Wales travelled to Westminster. The aim of the campaign is to seek fair transitional arrangements. The UK government has been criticised for not making women properly aware of the changes.

The BBC article quotes Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris who chairs the State Pension Inequality for Women committee, as saying: “Some women are selling their homes in order to be able to survive, living off savings which are rapidly running out and I don’t think it’s fair, having in some way shape or form contributed to society all their lives.”

On the subject of state pension age, readers may be interested in an event planned for later this year by the Westminster Employment Forum. This will look at the challenges for policymakers in the context of an ageing population and the independent review of the State Pension Age (SPA). The conference will take place on Tuesday, 12th September 2017, further details to be found here. Speakers include Dr Joanne Crawford, Head of Ergonomics and Human Factors, Institute of Occupational Medicine and Christopher Brooks, Senior Policy Manager, Consumer and Community, Age UK.

“Intergenerational Learning” top 5 trend for 2017 according to Sodexo

There are apparently 5 Global Workplace Trends for 2017 according to Sodexo.  Their research approach here is intriguing as according to their website: “We looked at global news sources focused on HR and the workplace and selected 10 trends relevant to Sodexo based on the services we offer and/or the way we partner with clients. Nearly 50 subject matter experts were consulted. Secondary source material and statistics were compiled from global news sources and research databases“.

The five proposed trends are:

  1. Next Generation Robotics
  2. Personal Branding (including by employees)
  3. Intergenerational Learning.
  4. Wellness in the Workplace (also described as Wellness 3.0)
  5. The Rise of Cross-Workplaces (rather disappointingly this is not organisations full of angry employees but a new iteration of collaborative working and work spaces)

So as you can guess I wanted to find out more about the new trend of ‘Intergenerational Learning‘.  This apparently requires ‘intergenerational agility’ to develop a new approach to talent management to take advantage of the ‘experience economy’ (I think this means older workers).   And I quote:  “Catalyzing intergenerational experience is a new source of competitive advantage that benefits all generations and organizations. Youth have specially focused knowledge, while older adults often bring collective knowledge about the culture and dynamic of work“.  We also need to celebrate “intergenerativity—the creativity that emerges from reciprocal exchanges across diverse identities, professions, ethnicities and ages” although given the list that seems like just plain old creativity to me!  But don’t worry, leaders in these new organisations will have ‘generational intelligence’ (seriously!) and therefore ‘the capacity to be aware of generational positions and to approach workforce management with a generational lens in mind.’ 

There are some good points in here about the need to avoid generational stereotypes for example (shortly after a sentence that reinforces them!) but the buzz words and jargon are completely overwhelming.  This reflects our long held concern that as a generational ‘problem’ at work has been constructed so the ‘solutions’ will emerge, packaged in commercially viable ways by consultants and the like.



CIPD poll says over-55s are ‘braced’ to work until they pass 70

One of the highlights from the CIPD’s annual ’employee attitude’ survey relates to the expectations of working in later life:

“In a survey of more than 1,600 UK employees, more than a third (37%) of all workers believe they will have to work past the widely accepted retirement age of 65, a figure which jumps to 49% among workers over 55 years old. Among those who predict they will work past 65, the average age they expect to actually retire is 70.”

The press relates highlights both ‘mental fitness’ and money ‘for holidays’ as motivations for this belief, but I would suspect that these are selected from a list of options provided in the survey rather than tapping into anything more meaningful for the individual respondents.  However it was particularly worrying that the poll seemed to suggest that there is still a lack of knowledge about changes to pensions age and entitlements in the UK.  For example it was said that “48% of 35–54-year-olds are still unaware that the state pension age is going to increase from 66 to 67 between 2026 and 2028”.  Of similar concern is the finding that most respondents felt that their organisations were doing very little to support older workers staying on in the workplace: “one in four (25%) employees believe that their employer is prepared to meet the needs of workers aged 65 and over”.

While this is a fairly simply survey, some of these figures should be of concern to employers and government, particularly in terms of the preparedness we are expected to make for our later life.  They also highlight the traction of terms such as pension and pensioner which have long been associated with state support in later life.  Much will have to be done if that stereotype is to be tackled.



Age and work in the Trump era

I don’t imagine this will be the last blog post on the topic of age and work during Trump’s presidency in the US.

There’s something of a mirror image to our earlier post this week going on in this article on the Michigan Radio website.

It reports that in the hospitality sector, restaurants are struggling to attract workers. They have traditionally depended on migrant labour as apparently nearly one in five restaurant employees in the US are foreign born. And restaurants also have the youngest workforce of any sector of the economy.

The article considers what the effects of this might be of Trump’s immigration policies (handily explained in detail here by the New York Times) but broadly in this context it involves favouring employment of nationals.  Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association, is cited as saying that “over the next decade restaurants will likely create more jobs than the U.S. born workforce can fill.” And he goes on to point out that with numbers of younger workers in decline, this is going to create vacancies which would otherwise have been filled by immigrants.

There’s no mention here of what other options could be explored – hiring older workers? – but again, we’ll watch with interest to see what happens.

Age and work in the post-EU referendum landscape

I don’t imagine this will be the last blog post that considers the impact of the Brexit vote for age and work related issues.

This recent article in People Management cites a CIPD Labour Market Outlook (LMO) survey that reports 27% of UK employers say they have seen evidence that EU nationals in their organisations are considering leaving the company (or the UK) this year. The survey also reports that employers say they are struggling to fill nearly 750,000 vacancies in the UK labour market because of a lack of suitable labour and skills. And it’s the low-skilled sectors such as retail, manufacturing, health and hospitality that account for 45% of the vacancies.

How do organizations say they would address this shortage?

  • 26% say they would absorb the extra cost of recruiting staff from the EU;
  • 19% say they would retain older workers;
  • 17% said they would invest in more in training;
  • 17% said they would hire more apprentices;
  • 16% said they would recruit more UK-born graduates.

So is it possible that the post-Brexit landscape would be good for older workers (via higher retention rates) and workers of all ages (via more apprenticeships and graduate schemes, assuming these are not restricted to younger workers)? Enter David Davis, the Brexit secretary. According to this article in today’s Guardian, the UK is not about to ‘shut the door’ on low-skilled EU migrants and apparently it’s not ‘plausible’ that British citizens would immediately take low-skilled jobs in sectors such agriculture, social care and hospitality. So immigration restrictions will apparently be phased in.

There’s a long way to go before a clearer picture emerges of the UK labour market post-Brexit landscape. But we’ll be watching with interest to see the implications for age and work.

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