Local organisations supporting older people to enjoy a positive working life

A consultation involving over 1600 people in Northern Ireland has indicated that people over 40 years of age want more help and advice on planning for the rest of their working life.

A survey and focus groups, commissioned by Age NI and Business in the Community Northern Ireland (BITCNI) and carried out on their behalf by the Department for Communities as part of the Age at Work project, discovered that 63% of working respondents said they would be interested in advice on work options for the future.

Finances were by far the biggest concern with employees. When asked about the areas they would be most interested in receiving support, those surveyed expressed interest in: receiving advice related to pensions and having sufficient savings to support retirement; planning an ideal retirement; and the impact that health could have on working prospects in later life.

Employees also voiced an interest in how to raise the topic of flexible working options with their employer, with 82%[i] of those surveyed preferring to have more flexibility in their job pattern in the future.

The information gathered from the survey is significant given that, within the next 30 years, it is likely there will be an increase of around 200,000 people aged 50+ living in Northern Ireland[ii]. This will have substantial implications on the job market, with a greater number of older people in the workforce and retiring in later life.

With that knowledge, Age NI and BITCNI have launched the Age at Work project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, to support people aged 50 and above. Over the next five years, the project aims to support older workers to remain in or return to work, in order to help them have enough income, stay connected and enjoy a fuller working life. The project addresses key areas such as finance, career planning, health and wellbeing, and work-life balance.

As part of a dedicated Age Academy, Age NI and BITCNI will provide resources, advice and one-to-one and group support, including Mid-Career Reviews, to more than 1,000 older workers. Employers will be supported through a range of innovative resources and tools, including age-inclusive toolkits, and audit and triage tools, as well as having the opportunity to attend learning networks and events.

Eamon Clarke, Age at Work Programme Manager, Business in the Community NI and Rosie Smyth, Life and Work Co-ordinator, Age NI will be supporting older people to have a more positive working life as part of the Age at Work project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Over the next five years, Age at Work will support older workers to remain in or return to work, in order to help them have enough income, stay connected and enjoy a fuller working life.

Rosie Smyth, Age NI’s Life and Work Co-ordinator, said:

“We are all living for longer, which means that for many of us, we will also be working for a greater length of time. This presents both challenges and opportunities for older workers and employers.

“As part of the Age at Work project, my role will be to provide tailored one-to-one and group support to older people seeking a refresh of their current role, skills and prospects, through Mid Career Reviews. This includes for example understanding the State Pension, identifying personal and professional development needs, as well as exploring flexible working options and how to approach this subject with your employer.

“As a result of this support, we hope to increase the confidence, skills and opportunities for those who wish to, as well as those who need to, stay in work for longer.”

The Age at Work project will also support older people to return to work, through tailored training and employment support through BITCNI’s Still Ready for Work programme. Age at Work will also support businesses to retain, retrain and recruit older staff.

The value of older workers cannot be underestimated with research indicating that older workers could potentially contribute £88 billion to the UK GDP, if they were able to stay in work for longer.[iii]

Eamon Clarke, Age at Work Programme Manager added: “As part of the consultation process we met with employers who recognise the benefits of retaining the wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience that older workers have to offer. We will be publishing toolkits that will support both employers and individuals, encouraging businesses to carry out age inclusive audits and skills audits, and helping them to develop and implement action plans to become more age-friendly employers. As part of this engagement, we will also be working with employers through the Still Ready for Work element of the project to support people aged 50+ back into employment.

“Business in the Community will be supporting employers across Northern Ireland to have conversations with their older employees regarding topics that concern workers aged 50+ and we are looking forward to working with employers through our learning networks and topic specific events.”

To sign up for a Mid Career Review, go to www.ageni.org/ageatwork, call 028 9024 5729 or email Rosie Smyth at rosie.smyth@ageni.org

Employers can request free support for retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers, through Age at Work. For more information visit www.bitcni.org.uk/ageatwork, or contact Eamon Clarke at eamon.clarke@bitcni.org.uk or (028) 9046 0606.

Read the results of the Mid-Career Review Consultation Report here

[i] 82% of those currently working would like to have more flexibility in their job pattern in the future. (Mid Career Review Toolkit Consultation Report Executive Summary, 2019)

[ii]NISRA, 2019: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/population-statistics-analysis-package

[iii] The Missing Million, 2014: https://age.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/research-articles/missing-million-report-1