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Running out of (older) workers? Spotlight on Germany

by on November 17, 2016

This article in the Financial Times considers ‘Germany’s demographic dilemma‘ and suggests that immigration on its own won’t solve ‘the problem of a rapidly ageing population’. Leaving aside how ageing is once again positioned as a ‘problem’, the United Nations predicts that Germany’s population is set to decline from a peak of 82m in 2002 to 74.5m by 2050 .  And the percentage of Germans under 15 is forecast to fall to 13%, which would be amongst the lowest in the world.

This has resulted in more women and more older men being hired by German organizations. 54% of working-age women in Germany are employed compared with 51% in France and 56% in the UK. The employment ration for older male workers (those aged 60-64), has risen from 28% in 2008 to over 50%. The article doesn’t give the equivalent percentage for older women or say how ‘working-age’ is defined.

The article’s main argument is that immigration can mitigate some of the economic impact of an ageing population but only when immigrants are successfully integrated into the jobs market. And, even then, it can only be a partial solution: people will also need to work for longer and there needs to be investment in life-long education.  Among the practices suggested that might help are:

  • taking a more flexible approach towards life-long training and retraining;
  • greater use of flexible-contract posts which are seen to appeal to older workers;
  • changes to rules so as to permit more pensioners to continue working part-time without incurring major pension cuts.

Some of this has already happened in the UK (the change to pension rules) but the suggestion around flexible contracts seems to raise a host of issues, linked as it is to debates around precarious work and the gig economy.

  1. Rachel Pinto permalink

    Interesting blog Rebecca, it is important to challenge negative stereotypes of older workers and start to recognise some of the opportunities it presents. I thought you might be interested in some research commissioned by ACAS earlier this year on managing older workers:

    Click to access Managing-older-workers-a-report-for-acas.pdf

    All the best

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