Why no vision for older workers?

Posted on: 23 September 2013 by Olderiswiser Editorial

Traditional idea of retirement no longer exists - so what is the plan to ensure people over 65 have enough to live on?

Working beyond default retirement ageThe whole of Europe accepts that great demographic change is on its way as a result of ageing population. So why is there no debate about how older people gain employment to fund their later life?

This week there is an online debate on employment within the single market at Yourideasforeurope.eu. The focus of the debate is economic migration predominantly among younger workers; it studiously ignores the fact that the number of over 65s still in work has doubled in the past 20 years. Falling pension values and dwindling savings rates have contributed to snare older people in a position from which they cannot afford to retire.

Older workers already experience very challenging conditions in the employment market - competing against younger candidates. And that is before we recieve a fresh influx of foreign talent.

In a bouyant employment market, adding depth to the pool of available talent would be a good idea; in a flat market with significant domestic challenges it is a policy that will inevitably breed resentment. All the major parties are vying for moral supremacy on the issue of employment with fantastical claims of how they will get people back into work. Speaking ahead of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Ed Miliband says if he wins the next election, he will force companies who employ a foreign workers to offer an apprenticeship to a British worker as well.

Yet, while David Cameron and company quickly trashed Miliband's plans as 'unworkable and illlegal', just like the Labour party they blanked the elephant in the room choosing not to acknowledge any need for a role for older people in the labour market. And if the problems faced by today's over 65s are grim spare a thought for those following behind. 

A survey carried out by Standard Life found that 79% of people under 45 have little idea what their retirement income would be. Head of pensions accumulation at Standard Life Alistair Hardie said: "Our research shows that most of us don't really know the value of our pension until we are older and in the run up to retirement, despite the fact that we are likely to be receiving annual pension statements."

The research comes on the back of similarly worrying news from HSBC who found that only one in five people believe they will ever be able to fully retire, and research from the Institute of Economic Affairs which found that retiring gave people a short-term boost, however the lack of employment and economic mobility was responsible for a long-term decline in both physical and mental health.

Flat savings rates and miserable pension returns emphasise the problems facing those approaching or already past the default retirement age. For many, working beyond 65 has now become a necessity rather than a choice. The IEA concurs and points to the economic boost an older, experienced workforce would offer if the Government pushed up the pension age and removed other red tape discouraging older people from taking on jobs. 

Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre said: “Lots of employers talk about innovation but far too few deliver.

“Some innovative employers have implemented measures to support older workers but they are few and far between. In the current economic climate it is unlikely that there will be significant financial support available to support getting older people into work so innovation will have to play a part in increasing employment levels.”

When are the major political parties going to acknowledge the scale of the problem? 

If you want to participate and add you own ides to the discussion, take a look Your Ideas For Europe


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