Ageing population will compound skills shortage

Employers will face a serious skills shortage over the next 20 years if they do not act to promote greater age diversity in their workforces, according to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD's ongoing research into the contributing factors behind the skills shortage in the UK economy highlights the potential effect of an ageing population and increased demand on services will have on workplaces.

There are 9.4 million workers aged over 50, but the employment rate drops 64% between the ages of 53 and 67.

The CIPD is urging employers to begin looking at how they can improve their retention and ongoing development of older skilled workers, so that they can avoid struggling to fill future vacancies with experienced applicants.

The sectors estimated to be most at risk from future skills shortages are education, public administration and health and social work. This is because around a third of these workforces are currently over 50.

The CIPD also estimates that the manufacturing, construction, transport and storage sectors will see an average fall of 50% in employees aged between 45-49 and 60-64.

The organisation argues that employers need a new strategy based around 5 essential components:

  • inclusive recruitment practices
  • investing in training and development
  • supporting employee health and wellbeing
  • flexible working 
  • improving line manager capability.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said:

"2035 may sound far off but the reality is that organisations need to get to grips with the ageing workforce challenge today or face skills shortages that will affect their ability to grow or deliver key services in the very near future.

"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."

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