New research on labour market and training experiences of older workers in the West Midlands

lsc-older-workers-reportResearch commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council shows that employers in the West Midlands are increasingly aware of the benefits of older job applicants when searching for recruits with personal qualities such as loyalty, experience and reliability.

Other perceived advantages include practical issues such as better retention, fewer training needs, and fewer family and childcare commitments.

There are nearly one million people aged over 50 still of normal working age in the West Midlands, out of a total population of more than five million.

The study, Labour Market and Training Experiences of Older Workers in the West Midlands (PDF, 800kb), aims to inform future learning and skills policy so that the regional economy derives maximum benefit from this age cohort and individuals in it have access to opportunities that enable them to continue to fulfil their potential.

The research was managed in partnership between the LSC, Coventry University, the Age and Employment Network, West Midlands Regional Observatory, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Black Country Coalition, Advantage West Midlands, VT Research and Circles Network.

Key findings

  • The older people are, the more likely they are to have no qualifications. Nearly 60 per cent of people aged 60 to 64 have no qualifications—a proportion that rises steadily from 26 per cent among those aged between 40 and 44.
  • Although most employed older workers had a positive attitude to work, this was balanced by reservations about stress and excessive paperwork.
  • A large proportion of employed participants believed that larger employers offer more advantages to older workers, including clearer progression routes and better policies on issues such as flexible working and job sharing.
  • In addition to the need for an income, many older workers cited a sense of purpose, boredom avoidance, stress reduction and social engagement as motivations for remaining employed.
  • Several older workers believe members of their age group have a negative attitude towards training, qualifications, IT and the stresses of the modern workplace, which could create a barrier to employment.

The West Midlands Regional Observatory will facilitate a discussion of these issues at an event on the 17th March 2009, 1.30-4.00pm, which will couch the findings of the research report into the context of general demographic change and subsequent policy responses.

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