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Young people (alone) are not the answer: how to fill the UK’s skills gap

Category: Blogger's Corner, Government, age, employment, Business, society, vacancies, suggestion, population, age inclusivity

Image of people. Young people (alone) are not the answer: how to fill the UK’s skills gap

Our population, and so our workforce, is ageing. The number of people aged 65 and over now accounts for almost 20% of the population. By 2050, this figure is predicted to nearly double.

This has huge implications for society as a whole, but for business in particular. The Government’s official data suggests that between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 12.5 million jobs will be opened up by people leaving the workforce. And an additional two million jobs will be created. However, only seven million younger people will enter the job market to fill them.

Age-inclusive employment

Do the maths. Over the next decade there will only be enough young people to fill about half the vacancies that become available.  That’s despite the fact that more school leavers are entering higher education. The problem is there will still not enough suitable candidates for the labour-hungry skilled workforce. In fact, the projections show a wealth of people (a surplus of 5.5 million) chasing lower-paid unskilled work, but shortages (a gap of 2.9 million) in the highly-skilled classes by 2022.

This means companies need to do more to consider the needs of the ageing workforce. And how they will fill their highly-skilled job vacancies. Firms will need to encourage their existing staff to continue to attain higher qualifications if we’re going to grow our economy.

We need a clear, strategic response to help employers recruit and retain the talent they need. And that’s at both ends of the age spectrum. Young people need opportunities for entry-level work with reasonable job descriptions (that limit the need for unpaid work experience and recognise their emerging skills). Older members of the workforce need more supportive conditions. Too many people are pushed out of work through redundancy or ill health. Or because they need to balance work and care.

How to manage an older workforce

We’re passionate about supporting businesses to get the balance right because age-diverse workplaces benefit from a range of experiences, ideas and ways of thinking. There are huge opportunities to harness the knowledge and creativity of multiple generations. And, at the same time, manage the growing gaps in the job market.

What can employers do?

  • Consider skills audits to discover which of your operational areas will be under greatest pressure. Where does retention most need to improve?
  • Talk to your existing workforce about how to plan for the future – including succession planning for key roles.
  • When you have collected these insights, create training and development opportunities that close your skills gap. That’s important for now, but critical for the future.

VERCIDA knows and understands the benefits of diverse workplaces. That’s older persons, new additions to the workforce, working parents, members of vulnerable communities and persons of all creeds and races. Together we can build a new economy that meets the needs of both workers and employers. Talk to us today about future-proofing your business needs.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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