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1 in 5 older people returning to work “can boost workforce experience and bring economic benefits for NI”

21 July, 2015

Following the release of research from Prudential that over 1 in 5 people have gone back to work, or are planning to do so, since they reached the State Pension age, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Claire Keatinge says Northern Ireland can benefit from more older people staying longer in the workforce.

Research from the Commissioner's office entitled "Valuing an Ageing Workforce", produced in conjunction with the International Longevity Centre-UK, highlights the need for government and employers to introduce ways to enable older people to remain in the workforce for as long as they wish to. The research shows that if older people are able to remain in work for longer, there are strong benefits for employers and the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.

Speaking about her research findings the Commissioner said;

"Northern Ireland is an ageing society, with life expectancy growing at an unprecedented rate – and this is something worth celebrating.

"More older people are staying in work, and more employers are seeing the value that older workers can bring to the workforce. Since the financial crisis in 2008, employment rates for people aged 50-64, and those over 65, have, for the most part, increased year on year.

"What is less apparent is the economic case for supporting more older people to remain in employment for longer. My research has found that economic output for Northern Ireland could be 4.4% higher by 2037 if employment rates for the over 65s continue to increase, than if employment rates remain the same.

"This shows that older workers are more effective than their younger colleagues and make a positive contribution in the workplace, despite widely held misconceptions that somehow productivity and output diminish with age.

"Many people will want to stay in work, for a variety of reasons, such as the removal of the previous Default Retirement Age, increase in life expectancy, and for personal fulfillment; and some will stay in work because they need to for financial reasons.

"It is essential that appropriate supports are put in place so as to enable older workers to continue to be able to play a positive role in the workforce, bringing their experience and skills to the fore and enhancing economic output.

"We must challenge the narrative that implies that an individual's ability to work diminishes with age, and instead focus on enabling older people to remain in work through increasing flexibility in the workplace. By working with older people to facilitate their needs, we can enjoy the benefits of a more experienced workforce, whose diversity brings a variety of skills and experience, and critically, enhances economic output, which is something that should be welcomed by all."