On 22 December 2014, Employment Minister Esther McVey announced that the government is rolling out an ‘older workers’ champion scheme across the entire United Kingdom to tackle age discrimination and employ older workers beginning April 2015.
The scheme, part of the Fuller Working Lives strategy, extends digital support to jobseekers over the age of 50 to help them get online, offers free career reviews with an expert, and helps older workers forge relationships with local small- and medium-sized businesses that have vacancies to fill.
Advocating for older workers is in the best interest of the United Kingdom. Demographics are changing, and neglecting to change with them could harm the UK economy. According to the government, by 2030 the number of people in England age 65 and over will increase by 50 per cent, and the number of people age 85 and over will double. Additionally, 1 in 3 children born today are estimated to live to be 100 years old. The United Kingdom does not have enough new workers to meet labour demands. Accommodating this influx of older workers can help position the entire economy for future success. The scheme is good for individual businesses, too. The benefits of hiring older workers include:
• A broader range of skills
• Mentoring opportunities for new employees
• The transfer of skills across the workforce
• Reduced staff turnover
• Improved staff morale
Indeed, according to government research, if the 1.2 million unemployed people over 50 who are eligible to work got a job, this would add about £50 billion to the UK economy. Early labour market exits are devastating for both individuals and businesses—the more people there are out of work, the more the economy suffers.