The UK’s population is ageing rapidly. By 2022, one third of our workforce is projected to be 50 or over, but despite growing life expectancy people are leaving work earlier today than they were in 1950.

There are almost one million people across the UK aged 50-64 who are still eager and able to work but are currently not in employment due to factors such as involuntary redundancy, caring responsibilities or the lack of flexible working opportunities. Research has shown that the over-50s sector struggle more than any other age group to get back into work once they have left. Employers have the power to change this.

With this in mind, Hertfordshire LEP and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hosted ‘The Value of Experience’ on 22 November to raise awareness of the impact an ageing population has on businesses and the economy, and encourage employers to take advantage of their collective knowledge and experience.

The event was inspired by DWP’s Fuller Working Lives initiative, created by employers for employers, to break down the stigmas attached to older workers, highlight the benefits of an age-diverse workforce and provide practical advice on how best to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

Major local employers Arriva Group and Barclays Bank spoke about their successful over 50s strategies and the positive impact they have had on their organisations. Delegates also took part in a workshop to provide insight into existing barriers to employing older workers and the support needed to overcome them; valuable feedback which will be used to inform DWP’s existing business and job seeker support programmes. View the full agenda and presentation slides.

Anna Sobczak, Recruitment Officer at Arriva Group says, “The majority of our employees are over 50 and we have found that older workers bring an unparalleled level of dedication, enthusiasm and vigour to their roles. As a company we go out of our way to attract older workers; providing free training, supporting those who struggle with online application forms, and offering job sharing options to fit around existing commitments. By using these simple solutions, we are rewarded with a workforce that are exceedingly loyal and customer focused.”

Mike Thompson, Careers Director at Barclays Banks says, “Our Bolder apprenticeship programme offers older workers who have been unemployed for extended periods a gateway back into the workplace and the chance to upskill and regain their confidence. The value of their life experience and soft skills cannot be underestimated and they play a valuable role within our multi-generational organisation, offering guidance and support to our young recruits who in turn teach them digital skills. We take great pride in seeing our older apprentices progress to higher level roles within our organisation, which is a testament to the importance of apprenticeships for all generations.”

Adrian Hawkins, Deputy Chair of Hertfordshire LEP and Chairman of Weldability-SIF says, “In a county where a shortage of skills is one of the most crippling barriers to growth, the older generation form a valuable pool of talent that could help businesses maximise productivity. As a business owner myself, I know that the success of any organisation is dependent on its people and for this reason, it is vital we eradicate the misperceptions surrounding older workers and recognise the value of their knowledge and experience.”

Find out what support is available to help you manage your workforce: view DWP’s employer toolkit available here.