A new initiative geared toward encouraging British businesses to employ more people aged 50 and above has won high-powered support with brands such as Aviva, Barclays, Boots and the Co-op all committing to do more.
In a joint announcement, the firms committed to increasing the proportion of their total workforce drawn from this older cohort by 12% by 2022, in addition to publishing regular updates to allow people to gauge how well they are progressing toward these goals.
Such moves aren’t being driven by altruism however as a growing skills gap in the economy is expected to see companies understaffed, with 14.5m people expected to retire over the decade from 2012 – replenished by just 7m new workers.
Such trends have become even more pronounced in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, which is expected to curtail an influx of immigrants from the continent.
Andy Briggs, head of Aviva’s UK arm, said: “Businesses will not be able to get the skills, resources and capabilities they need to continue to develop their business unless they find a solution. One of the solutions will be to create an environment where older people can work for longer.”
Briggs, who also serves as a government-backed business champion for older workers, believes that if the target is embraced then the number of older workers could rise from 9m to over ten million over the period.
At present some 19% of Aviva’s 16,000 UK employees are aged 50 and over, a smidgen ahead of Barclays where the comparative figure is 17% though significantly behind the Co-op Group which has achieved a 28% share.