2019 has been a bumper year for jobs for the over 50s, with employment levels at an all time high and growing numbers becoming self employed; but what is the real story behind the headlines?
Are over 50s opting to work longer through choice, or do changes in pension rules and the state pension age play a part?
And does being such a driving force to the UK economy give over 50s a sense of pride, or is age discrimination in the workplace leaving them undervalued and overlooked?
Jobs for over 50s and 65s fastest growing sector
Jobs for over 50s and 65s is now the UK’s fastest growing sector; so much so that Aviva estimate those over 50 years of age will account for 1 in 3 workers by 2025 and become the largest demographic by 2030.
Reporting on the UK’s all time high employment levels, The Telegraph recently stated that according to the Office for National Statistics, of the 357,000 jobs added to the economy over a 12 month period through to April 2019, 304,000 were given to workers above the age of 50.
The report goes on to say how 73% of over 50s and 11% of over 65s in the UK are now in work compared to only 60% and 5% respectively in 1999.
60 is the new 40
One of the reasons people are working later in life is the longer and healthier lives we are living – for many 60 really is the new 40. And as we are no longer forced to take retirement by a certain age, many are choosing to work beyond 65, or at least transition into retirement by working flexible or reduced hours.
Thumbs up for the new pension rules
Changes in pension rules mean we now have more freedom over when and how to retire. Retiring from work and drawing your pension no longer go hand in hand. You now have a choice when to draw income from your pension, which in turn has made people think about how they prefer to retire.
Working past what was considered ‘the retirement age’ is also now encouraged by many companies, with employers offering flexible hours that also encourage employees to work later in life.
When can I retire?
The downside to these changes is that as the state pension age has also changed, some over 65s feel financially compelled to work into older age.
Although there used to be a five year gap between the pensionable age for men and women, this has become a flat age of 65; soon to become 66 on 2020 and 67 in 2028. So, although the new pension rules have brought financial freedom for some, for others the delay in the state pension age has meant working longer than they would have liked.
Almost half of self-employed now over 50
The other good news story is that in the first 3 months of 2019, the over 50s accounted for 46% of the self-employed workforce. In fact 2.27 million UK over 50s are now self employed, which amounts to a 57% increase over the last decade.
What’s more, the number of over 65s who are self-employed has risen by 64% over the same period to 949,000.
Unfortunately the reason behind many of these over 50s going self employed is that they felt ignored and left behind in the workplace or found it difficult to seek new employment due to their age, highlighting the sad reality that age discrimination is still a concern.
Age discrimination still a factor
So, despite all the encouraging headlines, age discrimination for over 50s in the workplace is still a factor in the UK; an issue that needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
At the end of the day our contribution to the UK economy is huge, and growing year on year; so employers need to develop work environments that allow people of all ages to feel valued and to grow.
Whether you like the term or not, grey power is real and by all accounts, grey power is the future, so business need to wake up and change with the times quickly.