The Ageing Workforce

The Ageing Workforce

The demographic of workers in the UK is changing. We have an ageing workforce that’s going to put pressure on all sectors over the coming decades. The rising cost of healthcare and dwindling pension pot will force people to work for longer. HR departments are going to have to start planning for this sooner rather than later.

There are 9.4 million people in employment over the age of 50 in the UK. This is equal to over 30% of the workforce. As these workers start to retire, the younger generations coming through the workforce won’t be enough to bridge the skills gap. There just won’t be enough younger, skilled workers to fill the number of jobs left by the retirees.

Almost every sector will be affected, but education, retail and real estate are likely to be hit hardest because they have the largest proportion of workers over 50.

Healthcare Cost

It’s predicted that many of today’s 10 and 11-year-olds will live to be 120 or more. However, they might be working until they’re 100. Couple this with the declining birth rates, and it means that by 2022 there’ll be 700,000 fewer workers between the ages of 16 and 49.

With the ageing workforce will come a need for employers to keep staff healthy and productive into their seventies and beyond. This will require employers to manage the health and wellbeing of their staff.

People working past normal retirement age will cause problems for companies. Employers will need to look at their workplaces and see how changes can be made to benefit older workers, such as more seating, rest areas and brighter lighting. This will have a knock-on effect of also helping younger workers and will help make the entire workforce more productive.


Staff over 50 tend to get overlooked when it comes to training and promotion opportunities. This may seem harmless on the face of it but is a form of discrimination that will need to stop to be able to manage an ageing workforce. Companies have a tendency to concentrate their efforts on the younger staff members as older workers are thought to be nearing the end of their careers. More emphasis will need to be placed on continuing staff training for older employees.


The government plans on raising the age you can collect your pension to 70 or more, forcing more people to stay in work. Employers will need to provide ongoing training and advice. Not only skills training but giving older staff members help for life after work, such as financial planning, and advice on health and wellbeing in later life.

High Earners

Another issue with the ageing workforce is the fact companies will find it more expensive to keep older workers on. Fifty and sixty-year-olds are often the highest earners in a company due to their seniority and skills they’ve acquired over a lifetime of work. New strategies over the reward systems will need to be implemented and should be based on the role itself rather than the seniority of the worker.

Only one in five companies have made any provisions for the future’s ageing workforce. Up until now, it has been an issue that’s been swept under the carpet to a certain extent. But, in the coming years, companies will be under growing pressure to manage it. The skills gap left by the retiring workers could cause a catastrophe across many sectors if the issues aren’t addressed now.