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Older workers are “untapped source of talent”

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Older workers are the main untapped source of hidden labour talent, but most organisations do not know how to recruit or retain this age group.

That is according to a report entitled The Ageing Workforce – What’s Your Strategy?, which suggests that more must be done by British employers to accommodate a greying workforce if they are to continue on a path to growth.

This situation will become even more urgent in the near future as, according to the report, during the next decade the UK will experience a major skills shortage.

It says that there will be 13.5 million job vacancies over the following ten years, but only seven million school and college leavers available to plug this gap.

At the same time, 60 per cent of older workers are planning to extend their careers beyond the conventional retirement age, but 80 per cent of firms have no provisions in place to cater for this demographic.

Justine James, the report’s author, said: “We shouldn’t leave discussions about retirement or extended career phases to six months before someone is due to leave the organisation. It should be a human resources priority to put this on the table of senior management.”

However, only 45 per cent of employers and 20 per cent of employees openly talk about retirement, which Ms James believes highlights poor talent management of older staff members.

One reason for the lack of communication in this area is because business leaders are fearful of being accused of age discrimination if they talk about retirement.

But if older workers in shared offices are seen as “career enablers” rather than “career blockers” who get in the way of younger employees, companies will benefit from the experience and talent they can bring.

Businesses are therefore being urged to take action now to reduce the risk of a talent shortage in the future and harness the talents of their full workforce across the entire age spectrum.