Since 2019, there has been an increase of 200,000 people over 50 who say they are not actively looking for work.

A union says this is damaging to the wider economy and will exacerbate the current labour shortages.

In a detailed report into the shortage of older workers, the TUC says many are leaving either because of ill health or retiring early.

However, according to the report many older workers feel driven out, as their needs to be upskilled are not being met.

Upskilling workers

According to the TUC report, older workers are the least likely to get ‘off the job training’ from their employers. 

This, it says, is an additional barrier of discrimination, which will see over 50s twice as likely as the youngest workers to become long-term unemployed. 

Its research found just one in three who were made redundant were able to get back in employment within three months, even pre-Covid-19. The report says that older workers, like others, will need additional support if they are to return to or stay in the labour market and curb the current talent shortage.

Class inequality

Another aspect of the research highlights that the lowest paid workers are most likely to retire early, due to ill health

It suggests either companies or their union reps to enable them to plan for later life, by offering them any training they might require to either upskill or change roles.

Change the office mindset

According to the report, one simple way of addressing labour shortages would be to help more people over 50 to stay in work.

To do this, it says businesses must ‘tackle the structural discrimination that means workers on lower pay are more likely to be pushed out.’ Discrimination, it says, can be dealt with using additional training, paygap reporting and reasonable adjustments.

It also suggests workplaces must be made safer for all workers through improved health and safety guidance and stronger enforcement. 

It says to deliver a high productivity economy, businesses are also being advised to provide tailored support for older workers to ensure they are not – or do not feel – driven out.

Another method suggested by the report to ensure older workers are able to cope with workloads, is strengthening flexible working rights, which will assist all workers.

Ageism in the news

The computer giant IBM has been accused this month of ageism by the widow of a former worker, after her husband took his own life when he was fired. 

Company documents show that after 15 years of working for the firm in Connecticut as a client executive, 57 year old Jorgen Lohnn tool his own life in 2016 after being fired.

The lawsuit alleges that company bosses, as a cost cutting measure, decided to bring in younger ‘digital natives’ 

IBM faces a second, separate class action lawsuit, accused of forcing out hundreds of older workers. The company is accused of offering workers either relocation or severance pay, in the hope they would not want to move cities.





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Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.