An Ageing Workforce: the Employer's Perspective

Barnes H, Smeaton D, Taylor R | Report 468 | Institute for Employment Studies | Sep 2009

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Against a widely recognised background of workforce ageing, skills shortages, an early retirement culture and the prospect of a pensions crisis, prolonging the labour market participation of older workers has become a key policy objective in the UK.

Work-life balance policies and flexible employment can provide the means of prolonging labour market engagement. Changes in retirement behaviour will therefore originate primarily from the demand side – ie employers’ policies.

This study assesses the range of schemes introduced to prevent early exit (whether voluntary or involuntary) and to facilitate the employment of staff to pension age and beyond. To what extent is a preventative framework deployed, and under what circumstances do employers struggle to be progressive?

The project was designed to explore how effectively and comprehensively different types of employer (eg by size and sector) are responding to workforce ageing.

In addition, the study set out to identify progress and ascertain where scope for improvement remains, highlighting whether, where and why employers encounter difficulties, in order to suggest policy solutions.