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Why recruiting and retaining older workers is important: the case of manufacturing

by on August 28, 2013

There was widespread reporting yesterday of the comments of pensions minister, Steve Webb, to the effect that in order to gain competitive edge, British companies ‘must be prepared to take on the ageing workforce’. This was linked to the claim that the UK is running out of workers.

On the BBC Today programme, Steve Brittan, MD of BSA Machine Tools and President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, outlined his rationale for the need to retain and recruit older workers. 70% of workers in his company are over 60. He had an interesting take on how decline in manufacturing (and the West Midlands has been badly affected in the past) has meant a similar decline in apprenticeships which now results in a skills gap. Even with recent increases in training opportunities, it takes 8 years in his field for an apprentice to become a fully skilled worker. At the current rate of apprenticeships on offer, current estimates suggest this will only provide between 10% and 25% of the required future workforce.

So retaining and recruiting older workers is seen as essential. He made the point that age 65 is ‘not old’ with most being fitter, healthier and with better lifestyles than previous generations.

The interview can be heard via this link on the BBC website (it starts at 2.39.35).

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