We are exploring ways to support local businesses to encourage older workers back into employment and prevent the rising numbers of people out of work or ‘economically inactive’, following recent data released by Office for National Statistics.
The Centre for Ageing Better has identified that over 330,000 more workers aged 50-64 are now ‘economically inactive’ than before the first outbreak of COVID-19.
Whilst some employment levels for younger employees have recovered and overall unemployment rates recently fell to the lowest level since 1974, the Office for National Statistics has shared data that shows a concerning 2.2% increase in people aged 50-64 who are not in work or not looking for work, since before the start of the pandemic.
And here in Lancashire, the number of economically inactive individuals continues to rise. Since 2020, there are an additional 33,000 working-age individuals no longer in work or looking for work, an increase of 17.4% and now representing a quarter of the whole working age population in the county (Lancashire Skills Hub, 2022).
Worryingly, we are now seeing those aged 50-64 years old making up a large proportion of this economic inactive population. 93,000 out of the 302,000 50-64 years old are now economically inactive.
So, what can Lancashire businesses do to combat the rising figures? And how can they continue to benefit from the skills and experience held by our older workers?
As recommended by the Centre for Ageing Better, businesses can seek support on how to recruit, retain and support workers in their 50s and 60s and tap into the invaluable role older workers can play in boosting growth and productivity. Dr Emily Andrews, Deputy Director for Work at the organisation said:
“Businesses benefit from having a multigenerational workforce and in this challenging recruitment climate, finding the hires needed in the underused pool of older workers makes perfect sense.”
It is also key that Lancashire businesses support existing older employees in the workplace. Paul Blythin, Project Lead for Business Health Matters, added: “A challenge that some of our older employees can face is a decline in their health, which can lead to long-term conditions and result in economic inactivity. We’re urging Lancashire businesses to support their employees, particularly those over 50, with annual checks on their physical and mental health so that early prevention can be put into place.”
“Due to the rate of those over 50 and not in work in Lancashire, we have worked to source funding from Innovate UK to part-fund a workplace health check service so it is affordable to as many businesses as possible, with our checks costing just £60 per employee.”
The Business Health Matters health checks have been developed by Active Lancashire, the University of Central Lancashire’s School of Medicine and Lancashire Mind to offer an affordable and comprehensive health check service to businesses of all sizes across Lancashire.
Further information on the Lancashire Skills Hub research: https://www.lancashireskillshub.co.uk/our-people/evidence-base/