Supporting an ageing workforce key in post-pandemic recovery

New international competition launched by think tank to identify innovations that respond to an ageing workforce

Across the world, older workers make up a growing proportion of the workforce – according to research by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC), in the UK alone, the share of the workforce aged 50 and over rose from 26% in 2004 to 32% in 2018 and is projected to rise to 37% by 2040. This trend is mirrored all across the G20.

Professor Andrew Scott, Professor at the London Business School commented:

“Over the last decade, 100% of the employment increase in the G7 is accounted for by an increase in employment by those aged over 55. The labour market has changed dramatically and countries need to focus on how to support an economic longevity dividend.”

Lily Parsey, Global Policy and Influencing Manager, ILC argued:

“Harnessing the potential of workers of all ages will be crucial in the post-pandemic recovery and could deliver a significant longevity dividend to economies across the world.”

“Our analysis found that older workers already earn 30% of total earnings in the UK and this could rise to 40% (or £311 bn) by 2040.”

“But too often, barriers like poor health, caring responsibilities or ageism in the workplace shut older workers out of the job market. In the UK, about a million workers between 50-64 are forced out of the labour market early due to health and care needs or caring responsibilities.”

“With an ageing workforce, we need to fundamentally rethink the way we work, learn and live. Especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

“Longer and changing working lives will not only affect older workers but the way in which we plan the future of work for young and old alike. We need to design jobs and workplaces that work for all of us, regardless of age.”

Tomorrow, ILC, the UK’s specialist think tank on the impact of longevity on society is launching an international programme of work “Work for tomorrow”, supported by the Innovation Resource Center for Human Resources (IRC4HR), to identify the challenges and innovations that respond to an ageing workforce through a global innovations competition. Over the coming year, a global panel of expert judges will judge and award the best innovations from employers, HR professionals and start-ups that respond to an ageing workforce.

Jodi Starkman, Executive Director, Innovation Resource Center for Human Resources commented:

“Our research programmes reflect a belief that when you design work and work environments that are inclusive, everyone benefits. The challenges of an ageing workforce in the midst of a global pandemic provide some unique opportunities to experiment with new ideas. An inclusive innovation competition is a creative and scalable vehicle for identifying solutions and changing the narrative around what is possible. We are excited to be supporting ILC in this important work.”

George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, UK Research and Innovation added:

“There is so much to be gained from an age-diverse workforce and never more so as we enjoy the prospect of longer lives. Yet there is still much to learn about how to make the most of this opportunity, particularly at a time when intergenerational fairness is challenged by recent events.”

“We know many people fall out of work through ill health and from caring responsibilities. They also find the route back into work particularly challenging, so much so that large numbers never make it. This fuels a widening gap between the experience of the richest and poorest in society. Innovation, supported by high-quality research, will play a key role in helping employers realise the rewards offered by our longer lives.”

Caroline Waters OBE, Chair, Equality and Human Rights Commission argued:

“The G7 has a deepening dependency for growth on the continued involvement of workers aged over 55. The same group that has been disproportionately impacted by restrictions imposed by the COVID 19 lockdown and long-term health outcomes. To prevent more, older workers being frozen out of the global workforce we must break the emerging correlation between age and vulnerability that drives denial of rights and services and reduces our capability as a nation and an economy.”

Nic Palmarini, Director, UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing added:

“An ageing workforce is not just a matter for older adults. Our research suggests the way to deal with it in a structural way is to imagine a new season building - within the workplace - an intergenerational pact, developing new languages, creating platforms for learning exchange and common growth, leveraging life-based experience as a career driver. When generations come together, everyone benefits.”

Stefan Stern, Author and Journalist concluded:

"The organisations of the future will surely be more diverse and also multi-generational. This will make them more interesting but potentially also harder to lead and manage. We need to have the best-informed conversation we can about all this and I'm glad to see ILC UK playing a leading role."


The Work for tomorrow programme will be virtually launched tomorrow, Thursday, 20 August from 3.00pm – 5.00pm BST (10.00am – 12.00pm EDT).

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