Companies that have taken steps to improve the inclusion in the workplace of older workers have helped increase the number of over-50s in employment.

Research by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found employment has gone up by 40,000 to 29,600,000 in the last quarter – and almost half of these are individuals aged 50 or over.

However, the fastest rate of increase was seen in people aged over 65, especially women, and this age group now has just short of a million people in employment.

Jim Hillage, director of research at the organisation, commented: “There are a number of reasons why older workers are staying on in work.

“In some cases employers want to retain their skills and experience and encourage them to stay on, albeit on a part-time basis, and most older employees have been working for their employer for at least ten years and often in smaller workplaces.”

He noted that at the other end of the scale, some older people have to continue working because their pension is not enough to enjoy a good quality of life, and this appears to be backed up by the figures showing employment of over-50s and over-65s is highest in the most expensive part of the UK – London and the south-east.

“Finally, there is also a growing group of self-employed who still want to retain their work connections and interests,” Mr Hillage added.

The statistics from the IES show a significant proportion of over-65s have high powered positions, with 30 per cent working in managerial and professional jobs compared with nine per cent of younger employees, which could be why more people want to stay on after they reach retirement age.

Meanwhile, separate research from a recruitment agency last month found older people have helped to drive an increase in self-employment to a record 14 per cent over the last four years.