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'Demographic time bomb' to cause huge skills shortages, CIPD warns

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is warning of a 'demographic time bomb' that will see the UK face serious skills shortages by 2035 unless employers change their approach to workforce planning.

It said that something needs to be done to ensure that the hole left by retiring workers can be adequately filled.

It's urging organisations across all sectors to take steps now to reap the benefits of a more age diverse workforce, rather than fall victim to a mass exodus of skills as their workforce ages.

Loss of skills and talents

The employment rate of older workers has risen significantly since the abolition of the default retirement age in 2011, with 9.4 million workers over the age of 50 - more than 30 per cent of the workforce.

But the CIPD said that this increase had masked a 64 per cent drop in the employment rate for people aged between 53 and 67, with many from this age group leaving the workforce and taking their skills and talents with them.

A report earlier this year from Business in the Community said that more than a million people in this age group had been made 'involuntarily jobless', pushed out of work through redundancy, ill health or early retirement. Once out of work, they were far less likely than younger workers to find another job.

Better workforce planning

Employers need to attend to the way they recruit, develop and retain older workers if the UK economy is to fill a million jobs by 2035, even after taking migrant workers into account, the CIPD said.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, said, 'Employers need to recognise the value that older workers can bring to their organisation when recruiting new staff, continue to invest in people's training and development at different stages of their careers and think about how they can transfer older workers' knowledge to other parts of the business when they do retire.

'In addition it is increasingly in employers' interests to think about how they can support the health and wellbeing of their staff and provide more flexible working opportunities to allow older workers to downshift and benefit from more gradual transitions into retirement if that is what they want.'

Acas publications and services

Acas can visit your workplace and raise staff awareness on issues surrounding age, age discrimination and diversity; see Equality and diversity: how Acas can help.

Acas also offers practical training on Age and the repeal of the Default Retirement Age, Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010, Work/life balance and Flexible working.

If you have questions about Retirement or need free, impartial advice on any employment relations issue, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100, or consult Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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