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Ageing population / Ageing workforce

Refers to the fact that population growth has not occurred evenly across all age groups and that the proportion of population aged 65 and over has increased, whilst the proportion below 16 has generally decreased over the last 30 years. National statistics published online state that the percentage of people under age 16 fell from 25% in 1971 to 19% in mid 2004. Over the same people, the percentage of population aged 65 and over increased from 13% to 16%. The older population is ageing. Within the population aged 65 and over, the proportion aged 85 and over has increased from 7% in mid 1971 to 12% in mid 2004. From a business perspective, there are a number of benefits of employing older workers eg helping to prevent skills shortages, minimising recruitment and training costs. Arguably, older workers cost more in terms of pay and health-care benefits / claims, and there is the notion that they might be less productive. This is not necessarily true. The reduction in labour turnover and associated costs and increased return on training and development, might outweigh the higher wage paid and cost of any health-care benefits. As for the lower productivity, this might be true with regard to manual jobs as there is a correlation with manual dexterity and age. However, older workers tend to have more developed social, communication and decision making skills which could make them far more productive in other types of jobs, for example, sales positions – where social skills are particularly important. One area in which older workers may impinge upon a business’s performance concerns poor IT literacy and resistance to change. Although this is a general statement to make, older workers are more likely to be set in their ways and prefer things to be done as they have always been done. They are also not as IT literate, having not grown up with the sort of ICT technologies regularly used by the youth of today. However, in the longer term, IT literacy amongst the workforce should not be so much of an issue, as more and more of the newly retired will have developed their IT skills at work, and they will take these skills into retirement.

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