Saturday, March 25, 2023

Lincolnshire employers among first in country to sign pledge supporting older workers

Lincolnshire County Council has become one of the first local authorities in the country to have signed the Centre for Ageing Better’s Age-friendly Employer Pledge.

The council joins Lincolnshire Cooperative and NHS Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board among the first 80 organisations in the country to sign the free, nationwide scheme.

Now other employers in the county are being encouraged to sign up to the scheme and feel the benefit for themselves of tackling skills and labour shortages through the recruitment and retention of a multigenerational workforce.

Under the initiative, employers commit to taking at least one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers, identifying a senior sponsor for age-inclusion within their workforce and ensuring that age is specifically named within their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.

The Centre for Ageing Better supports the network of Age-Friendly Pledge Employers by providing an action framework of suggested actions and offering opportunities to learn effective age-friendly practices.

Nationally, the employment gap between 35-49s and 50-64s is now at 15 percentage points – 4 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic. Among the 830,000 additional economically inactive people since the start of the pandemic, three in four are aged 50 or above.

The picture for older workers in Lincolnshire is especially challenging. Between October 2021 and September 2022, almost three in ten (27.6%) 50-64 year olds in Lincolnshire were economically inactive. This is almost one percentage point more than the national average for this age group in the same time period (26.8%).

Faced with record vacancy rates alongside skills and labour shortages, now, more than ever, local employers can benefit from increasing their numbers of older workers and harnessing their skills and experience.

Lucy Shevill, HR lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “At Lincolnshire County Council 40% of our staff are aged 50 or over so we could assume that being age-friendly is embedded already. By checking our approaches against the five age-friendly principles and what support we offer older workers specifically, there is still more we can do.

“One of the areas we are looking to develop is how we promote our learning opportunities including apprenticeships to older workers where they are currently underrepresented.”

Sophie Chapman, Engagement Advisor at Lincolnshire Co-op, said: “We’re delighted to be one of the first signatories of the Age-friendly Employer Pledge and continue to champion older workers.

“We have made significant changes to our recruitment processes, are working with external agencies to provide older job seekers with a work placement and employability programme, and support colleagues experiencing age related wellbeing issues.

“Over a quarter of our colleagues are aged 55 and over and we recognise the positive difference they make to our family of businesses and the local communities they serve.” 

Navaz Sutton, Strategic Partnership Manager for Lincolnshire at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It is great to see some of Lincolnshire’s largest employers leading the way for other local organisations in signing the Age-friendly Employer Pledge.

“Lincolnshire’s ageing population is already reflecting the kind of demographics we expect to see nationally in 20 years’ time, so it is key for the county to be an age-friendly pioneer. Signing the pledge is a fantastic first step for employers to prepare for this demographic change and become more age inclusive. There is a real interest in age-friendly approaches in the county and I am excited to support other local employers that are interested in signing the pledge.”

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