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UK Government appoints ‘older workers’ tsar: Latest stats for later life working

by on October 6, 2016

The Government have announced the appointment of Andy Briggs, chief executive of Aviva UK Life, as ‘Business Champion for Older Workers’ or ‘older workers tsar‘ as these posts are generally described.  According to Money Marketing, his role will be to explain the advantages of having older staff and to encourage organizations to retain and recruit those over 50.

The work and pensions secretary Damian Green is quoted as saying: “This generation of over 50s can combine the wisdom of experience with the fitness of youth” thus managing to combine two rather unhelpful age stereotypes in one sentence! Being wise and being fit can be attributes regardless of chronological age.

The same story was also covered in the Evening Standard which makes the point that this is part of a wider political imperative of ensuring that people over 50 work for longer.  Briggs will apparently work alongside Business in the Community to promote this approach which he says has benefitted Aviva’s growth and productivity.

A few days ago, the Office for National Statistics produced one of their handy labour market visuals, this one entitled Five Facts about Older People at Work to mark International Day of the Older Person (1st October). The headlines are:

  • ‘The proportion of those aged 65 and over who work has almost doubled since records were first collected;
  • There were 742,000 men and 448,000 women aged 65 and over in employment in the UK in May to July 2016;
  • Part-time self-employed workers tend to be older than part-time employees;
  • The economy may come to rely increasingly on older workers by 2039;
  • The working world for people aged 65 and over is similar to those aged 16 to 64.’

It may be stretching it to describe all of these as ‘facts’ but there are some interesting points to note particularly about the part-time self-employed being older than part-time employees – perhaps something for Andy Briggs to consider. Does this reflect difficulties in being hired or retained as an employee in later life? Is it easier for some – or do they have no option – to become self-employed if you want to remain working?

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