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Older workers are a valuable resource for industries facing a skills shortage

Government figures show that an estimated 13.5 million jobs will be created over the next 10 years - but that there will only be a projected 7 million young people available to fill these roles. Could older workers hold the answer to the UK's growing skills gap?

The abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) and changes to the state pension mean that people are likely to continue to work for considerably longer in years to come. Government projections suggest that as much as 36% of the UK's working population will be over 50 by 2020.

Conversely, evidence suggests that there is likely to be a lack of young people with the right skills entering the workforce. Research by entrepreneur think-tank the Tenon Forum has found that nearly half of UK owner-managers are concerned about general skills shortages among both graduates and school-leavers, with many claiming that younger recruits lack the skills and attitude required for today's work environment.

Older employees represent a valuable resource, and employers need to ensure that their skills and experience are put to good use to plug any skills gap. However, they also need to make sure that they don't lose their talent and competitive edge when their older workers finally do retire. This means developing systems for passing on their skills and experience to the rest of the workforce. Many organisations will also need to consider how they can best support opportunities and career progression for their younger employees in the face of an ageing workforce.

Acas provides training for employers in meeting the various challenges of managing an age-diverse workforce.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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