Credit: Fortune Live Media

The talents of Britain's elderly are going to waste

A study claims Britain's economy could be boosted by £100bn if more older people were in work.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 22 Dec 2015

It seems retiring at 55 and making the most of some time off could be bad for the economy. New research from PwC found that Britain could be missing out on billions of pounds due to low levels of employment for older people.

The report was based on PwC's 'Golden Age Index', which ranks OECD countries on how friendly they are to older workers based on employment levels, salaries and training. It claimed that if Britain could match Sweden, the highest-ranked EU country, then its economy could be better off to the tune of £100bn per year.

'This group of workers is too often over-looked by businesses and Government, but our research shows there could be big gains for the UK economy from policies directed at keeping people skilled and motivated to stay in the workforce for longer,' said John Andrews, head of PwC's global people and organisation practice.

He added that the Govenment could encourage businesses to employ more older workers by introducing tax breaks, increasing spending on retraining and enforcing age discrimination laws more strictly.

Read more: How to manage older workers

'More flexibility, job redesign, career breaks and role shifts could help engage this generation and keep them in the workforce for longer,' he said. 'Training, promotions and performance management should not tail away at 50.' 

Britain's slipped down the rankings from 13th in 2003 to 19th today, although the report said it had improved in abolute terms. Top of the charts is Iceland, followed by New Zealand, Sweden and Israel.

Given the high rate of UK youth unemployment (15.7% as of April), some might think it's more important to focus on the employment prospects of younger people rather than giving more jobs to the over 55s. But ultimately the more people who are in work, the more economic activity is being generated, and so everybody would benefit in the long-term.

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