Inquiry into older people and work opens
The UK parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee has launched a new inquiry into older people and employment, to look at current government policies to help people extend their working lives, and to consider further steps which could be taken to tackle issues including age discrimination.
In 2010 one in four of the working age population was aged 50 or over, and the government is working on the theory that this is projected to increase to one in three by 2022.
The average age of leaving the labour market is lower than in 1950, while life expectancy has increased: a because of a variety of factors, not least the state of the economy over the last 8 years, a quarter of men and a third of women reaching state pension age have not worked for five years or more.
And almost one million people in the same age range who are not in employment have said that they were willing or would like to work.
The government’s Fuller Working Lives strategy moved forward Baroness Ros Altmann’s review A New Vision for Older Workers published in March 2015, and its recommendations for the government, businesses and individuals to ‘recruit, retain and retrain’ older workers.
The Spring Budget 2017 (para 4.12) contained announcements about two initiatives “recognising that individuals should have the opportunity to retrain and upskill at all points in their life”.
According the this, up to £40 million is to be spent by 2018-19 on ‘lifelong learning pilots’ testing different approaches to retraining and upskilling throughout people’s working lives, and £5 million is to be used to identify how best to increase the number of ‘returnships’ – offering routes back to employment for people who have taken or otherwise had lengthy career breaks.
The inquiry will be focussing on these questions, and the Committee welcomes evidence from individuals as well as organisations:
1 – Is the Fuller Working Lives strategy a comprehensive response to the issues identified in the Altmann Review?
2 – What progress has been made to date by the government’s employer-led approach, and what are its strengths and limitations?
3 – What further steps should the government consider in order to reduce barriers to later-life working?
4 – What further steps need to be taken to reduce age discrimination in recruitment, and what evidence is there that an employer-led approach will be effective?
5 – How successful are the government policies on re-training and re-entry likely to be in helping people stay in work or find new employment?
Have relevant recommendations on reforming Jobcentre Plus and welfare-to-work services been implemented?
Is there a place for employer incentives?
6 – How should the government and employers respond to and improve age diversity in the workforce?
How could the Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy most effectively contribute to improving the prospects of older workers?
7 – Is the government’s approach addressing the different needs of women, carers, people with long-term health conditions and disabilities and BME groups among the older workforce?
To submit your views via the older people and employment inquiry page click here.
Or join the conversation on Twitter: #OlderWorkers
“We know that many others in this age group who would like to be working are not in employment.
“Helping people over 50 to tackle age discrimination is good for the economy, for employers, and for individual employees.
“The government recognises the problems facing over 50s but will its strategy and plans make any difference?
“Our inquiry will consider progress so far; the things that stop change; what works; and what more needs to be done.”
The deadline for written submissions is 9 May 2017.