Age NI and Business in the Community have formed a partnership to support older workers and employers to tackle these issues through the Age at Work campaign.

Contact: Shelly Ovadia

Our population is ageing.There are 298,400 people aged over 65 years living in Northern Ireland and this is expected to increase by 74.4% between 2014 and 2039.

However, despite increased longevity, people today are leaving the labour market earlier than in 1950 – some through choice and others due to redundancy, ill health, or because they need to balance work and care. All of this has a direct impact on business.

Business in the Community have partnered with Age NI and our respective counterparts in Scotland and Wales to tackle the issue of Age at Work, and the first stage of this is a short scoping project running from October 2017 – March 2018.

47% of workers in Northern Ireland aged 40-641 – estimated to be more than 297,8002 people – say they will not have enough money to retire when they reach state pension age, according to YouGov research in 2017 for the Charity Age NI and Business in the Community.

Age UK’s public policy paper ‘Creating a career MOT at 503, highlights the difficulties facing many workers who cannot afford to down tools when they become eligible for their State Pension.

The number of people over 65 years living in Northern Ireland is expected to increase by 74.4% in the next twenty years4. As we live longer, people are increasingly planning to work longer and for many this is in to their late 60s and beyond, with 46% saying they would do so to afford their desired lifestyle in retirement. More than a third (37%) who believe they will be working past state pension age plan to continue working in their current job with the same hours, while 34% intend to reduce their hours

The research highlights that not having enough money was the most common reason to continue working. Others included enjoying the social side of working (30%) and worrying they would get bored or lonely at home (31%).

But many are concerned about their health or fitness to continue working. Of those who expect to stop working or to reduce their hours before their late 60s, almost three in ten (28%) say their job is too physically demanding to continue working into their late 60s, while a third (33%) expect their health won’t be good enough.

Age discrimination could also have an impact on people’s ability to continue working or change roles. Almost one in four adults aged 40 to 64 (24%) has felt disadvantaged or treated negatively when at work or applying for jobs past the age of 40. Having a career MOT at the age of 50 appealed to nearly two thirds (63%) of those surveyed, this would include in-depth career and financial planning for retirement.

The research showed that, alongside in-depth career and retirement planning advice, many people are also keen to receive guidance on how they can boost their savings. Consideration of their pension/savings provision topped the wish-list of things to include in the MOT. This included:

  • A consideration of their pension/savings provision to help them save enough for their retirement – 52%
  • A discussion about what job(s) they might want to do for the rest of their working lives – 47%
  • An assessment of their transferable skills and experience – 42%
  • Support in planning their ideal retirement – 43%
  • The impact of their health on future working prospects – 43%
  • Identifying any skills they may need in the future and options for training – 40%
  • A discussion about different types of flexible working and how to raise that with their employer – 43%

What is Business in the Community doing?

Business in the Community and Age NI have formed a partnership across the nations to support employers and older employees through the Age at Work campaign. Under the key areas of recruitment and retention, Age at Work will support older workers to remain in work or return to work in order to help them have enough income, stay connected and have a fuller working life.

Urging employers and key decision makers to commit to creating an MOT at 50 for all people in Northern Ireland; helping them to help people adjust their future plans and pension savings, and are appealing to older workers, both those in employment and seeking employment, to contact them to help support the work of the Age at Work campaign.