Employers should increase the number of older people in the UK workforce by one million over the next five years to combat age bias, the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers will announce today.

To address the widening skills gap, tackle age bias in work and enable people to stay in work longer, every UK employer should increase the number of workers aged 50-69 in the UK by 12 per cent by 2022. The target is aimed at supporting older people who want the same range of options and opportunities as younger colleagues, and to be recognised for their experience and expertise. In recognising the skills older people bring to the workplace, employers will benefit from the breadth and depth of their knowledge.

The Government appointed Andy Briggs, who is CEO of Aviva UK Life, as its Business Champion for Older Workers.

Andy Briggs said:

“One million more older people in work by 2022 is an ambitious yet necessary target. There are 15 million people of this age group in the labour market, yet only nine million are in work. We want to get this to 10 million by 2022,”

“This target is achievable if employers commit to taking an honest and sustained approach to understanding age bias in their organisations. Older people can be written off by their employers, but we are asking employers to consider carefully the overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce, and then to act on it. We live in an ageing society so it is critical that people are able to work for as long as they need and want to and there are overwhelming benefits for both employers and employees.

The employment rate for people aged 50-69 is 59 per cent and the report says this must increase to 66 per cent by 2022 if the UK is to start addressing its skills gap. By 2022, 14.5 million more jobs will be created but only 7 million younger workers will enter the workforce – leaving 7.5 million roles unfilled.

The team will track progress by reviewing the government’s Labour Force Survey statistics for increases in the total number of older people in work and in the employment rates of older workers aged over 50, and is committed to supporting employers in meeting the target.

The target is supported by the Centre for Ageing Better. Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, said:

 By 2022, more than one in three workers will be over 50. Employment rates for this age group have been growing, but they remain much lower than for younger people, with a rapid falling off after the age of 55. Increasing the numbers of people over 50 in fulfilling work is good for society, good for business and most importantly good for people themselves.

To achieve this ambitious target, we need age-friendly workplaces, which allow people to sustain productive and healthy working lives for longer. Older workers should expect to be treated equally and fairly as any other worker, with flexibility, reasonable adjustments, and opportunities for development.






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.