Fairer sex comes to skills-shortage rescue

Fairer sex comes to skills-shortage rescue

As HR faces the prospect of an aging workforce and an intensifying skills shortage, outside-the-boxers are tapping into a demographic not usually the centre of focus: women over 55.

Since 2008, employment levels for older women have climbed 16.4%, compared with the 0.4% drop for workers aged 25 to 54, leading one top economist to encourage employers to age-diversify their workforce or risk being seriously under-resourced.

 “The relatively good outcome for older women during the recession is no cause for complacency about the need to continually stress the business case for an even more age-diverse workforce as the economy starts to recover, especially with so much public policy action understandably focused on cutting youth unemployment,” says CIPD economist Dr John Philpott. “An ageing workforce presents both challenges and opportunities for employers, who at some point in the not-too-distant future will struggle to fill vacancies unless they recruit and retain older workers, women and men, in far greater numbers.”

The good news for HR is that there is a strong source of experienced talent flowing into the market, but the changes will also require employers to adapt as their worker demographics change.

The shift will have a major impact on employers and how they manage older workers and their needs. Older women are more likely to want part-time work, which will require companies who want to maintain staff levels to increase flexibility.

There are also direct impacts from the changing health and abilities of older workers. Employers may find they need to improve lighting and make work spaces more accessible for their staff. Introducing regular health checks in the workplace can also help ensure a healthy, productive older workforce.


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