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Solace blog

17th November 2023

Age-friendly Employer Pledge: Local authorities race to join

In 2022, Solace signed up to the Age-friendly Employer Pledge run by the Centre for Ageing Better to show our commitment to older workers and work to improve our recruitment, retention and development of workers aged 50 and over. We are looking forward to National Older Workers Week (20–24 November), which provides an opportunity for employers to gain access to insights and best practices in support of multi-generational workforces. Ahead of this, Tracy Riddell, Senior Programme Manager for Age-friendly Employment, has written for us about their Age-friendly Employer Pledge and how local authorities have been engaging:

Why local authorities are racing to sign up to the pledge

By Tracy Riddell, Senior Programme Manager at Centre for Ageing Better

Today’s job market is rapidly evolving, and employers are facing huge challenges including skills and labour shortages. Yet, there is an area of the workforce that is undervalued and underutilised. One-third of the workforce in England, over 9 million workers, are aged 50 and over.[1] And this population is only predicted to grow as the UK undergoes a massive age shift. There are over 11 million people aged 65 and in ten years’ time, this will have increased to 13 million people, 22% of the population.[2]

Research shows that multigenerational workforces drive productivity and innovation.[3] Despite this, older workers often face prejudice and are overlooked. Employment rates drop after the age of 55, and over half of people have stopped working before the state pension age.[4] In this volatile job market, these workers are key to filling these labour gaps. It is vital that employers embrace older workers and their needs to hire and retain these key workers.

This is an area that affects local authorities. In its analysis of Census 2021 data[5], the ONS looked at the occupations most dependent on older and younger workers and found that there are several official local authority roles which are disproportionately staffed by older workers including:

  • Librarians/library assistants – Around half of people in these roles were aged 50 years or older
  • Care escorts – the largest age group of people who had this job were those aged 60 to 64 years (19%)
  • Street cleaners – among the top 10 most common jobs for people aged 55 to 59 years old

Given these numbers, it is no surprise that local government is one of the most active sectors in signing up for the Centre for Ageing Better’s Age-friendly Employer Pledge.

Launched late last year, the Age-friendly Employer Pledge is a free nationwide programme designed to tackle ageism in the workplace as well as help employers resolve substantial skills shortages and vacancy rates. By signing the pledge, employers are not committing to changing their whole organisation overnight. They are simply committing to take one action—big or small—every year.

Becoming an Age-friendly Employer is a journey. And Ageing Better is here to support employer journeys with a framework of suggested actions, webinars, a peer learning network, monthly newsletters, check-in calls and more.

Seventeen local authorities have already demonstrated their commitment to older workers by becoming the first councils in England and Wales to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge. Councils including those serving Leeds, Cardiff, Wealden, Southend on Sea and the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham have committed to improving the recruitment, retention, and training of older employers by joining the age-friendly employer pledge.

Isle of Wight Council, a signee of the pledge, for instance, has a workforce where 46% are aged 50 and over. The council explains that this is in part because it has an openness culturally to older people, recognising the value they can play in the workforce. As Sharon Betts, Director of Corporate Services points out, “Older people have important life skills to offer. They can coach others and offer an important mature perspective. There is no retirement age here.”

Another local authority signee of the pledge is the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Darren Stevens, Executive Director of Corporate Resources, explains “We want everyone to have fulfilling lives working with us, whatever their age. Over half our employees are aged 45+ and almost a third are over 55. We really value everyone, so we take the steps necessary to keep them with us as long as possible”.

Our Age-friendly Employer Pledge team is very keen to have more local authorities sign up. The more local authorities join, the more learning there will be that can be shared within our ever-growing Age-friendly Employer Pledge network, now over 270 employers and counting.

Moreover, local authorities are often one of the biggest employers in any locality and we know that demonstrating good practice can also be an inspiration and influence for other local employers to join the movement. For example, Lincolnshire County Council signed the pledge in January and now, less than a year later, five more employers based in the county have also joined the pledge.

Join today to get the age-friendly advantage and show your local authority’s commitment to harnessing the skills and talents of older workers. Age-friendly employment benefits us all.

[1] Economic labour market status of individuals aged 50 and over, trends over time: September 2023, DWP

[2] National Population projections: 2020-based interim, ONS Census 2021

[3] Promoting an Age-Inclusive Workforce, OECD, 2020

[4] Recent and future patterns of work around state pension age, Institute for Fiscal Studies and Centre for Ageing Better, 2022

[5] The occupations most dependent on older and younger workers, ONS Census 2021