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The Valuable Contribution Older Workers Bring to Businesses

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Wales has an ageing workforce. By 2022, one in three people of working age in Wales will be age 50 and over.

Despite this, 28% of people aged 50-64 years in the UK are not actually in work. To address this issue the Welsh Government is highlighting the valuable contribution older workers bring to businesses across Wales as well as the wider economy, while also encouraging employers to recruit, retain and train their employees who are over the age of 50 through its ‘People Don’t Have a Best Before Date’ campaign.

The campaign provides businesses, particularly SMEs, where the impact of losing the skills possessed by older workers may be greater, with practical advice on how to retain their older workers as well as attract people over 50 who might be looking for work.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:

“For business in Wales, there is an overwhelming case for investing in the skills of their workforce, especially those aged 50 and over who make a significant contribution to our economy.

“In only two years’ time, it’s likely one in three workers in Wales will be aged 50 and over. Businesses have a great opportunity to benefit from their skills, knowledge and experience to pass on to younger people entering the workplace.

“This campaign challenges ageist stereotypes about older workers and shines a light on the need for Welsh businesses to take action when it comes to future-proofing their workforce and celebrating the difference employees 50 and over make. This is particularly the case for SMEs, for whom losing the valuable skills and experience of older workers can have much more of an impact.

“Employers need to assess, monitor and consider the needs of their more experienced workers, as the role they play in businesses across Wales is critical to the success and prosperity of the Welsh economy.”

The ‘People Don’t Have a Best Before Date’ campaign aims to encourage organisations to be age-friendly employers by investing in staff and removing obstacles that may lead to workers retiring early and taking their skills and experience with them.

These obstacles may include:

  • Training being focused on younger members of staff, with those aged 50 and over being overlooked or not being encouraged;
  • A lack of flexible working when people aged 50 and over may have caring commitments, for children, grandchildren and parents, a position that’s known as the’ sandwich generation’ of worker;
  • An ageist culture which assumes all older people don’t want to or can’t work into their later years.

The Welsh Government has partnered with the Learning and Work Institute, Business in the Community (BITC) Cymru, the Older People’s Commissioner, Ageing Well in Wales, the Federation for Small Businesses and Chwarae Teg on this campaign to challenge stereotypes, demonstrate the value of a multi-generational workforce and encourage employers to invest in skills throughout their employees’ working lives.

Director of BITC Cymru, Sue Husband, said:

“Looking after employees, at all stages of their careers, is a vital component of responsible business. BITC Cymru is proud to work alongside the Welsh Government and leading advocates of older workers to support businesses to future-proof their skills needs. We regularly provide practical support to small employers to help them harness the potential of workers aged 50 and over.”

For employers looking for more information on how they can invest in the skills of their older workers, the Welsh Government’s Skills Gateway for Business – https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/ has a range of advice and guidance.