Manufacturers embracing employment of older workers

Britain's manufacturers are adopting an increasingly positive attitude towards employing older workers in order to address the challenges posed by continued skills shortages and an ageing population, according to a report published this week by EEF Northern, the manufacturers' organisation.

The report ‘An Ageing Workforce - How are manufacturers preparing?' shows that, in contrast to the popular view, manufacturers believe older workers to be a valuable part of their workforce, more productive and less likely to be absent than their younger counterparts. The more physical nature of manufacturing employment is also felt to be no impediment to the employment of older workers.

Alan Hall, EEF Northern Director, said: "At a time when skills are at such a premium, the experience and technical abilities of older workers are regarded as invaluable. If employers are prepared to adapt their working practices and adopt a positive approach to rehabilitation there is no reason to believe that the skills of older employees cannot continue to be fully utilised."

The importance of the skills and experience older workers possess is illustrated by the fact ‘loss of specialist skills' was cited by over three quarters of companies as a concern, with 60% describing it as significant.

The survey also showed that older workers were not just valued for their skills alone but also their levels of productivity. 54% of companies thought there was no difference in productivity between older and younger workers and just over a third said that older workers were more productive than their younger counterparts.

Alan Hall said: "Given the government's emphasis on rehabilitation and flexible working, it is encouraging that manufacturing employers are adopting a more pro-active and positive approach than many other sectors in managing the needs of their workforce."


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