Ensure the skills and talents of women in the third phase of their working lives are fully used and are not lost to the economy due to caring responsibilities or the changing labour market by:
% of population aged 50+
|Year||% of population aged 50+|
The average retirement age has been increasing for men and women, and this is likely to continue
|Year||Retirement age for women||Retirement age for men|
|2010||62.3 for women||64.6 for men|
% of workers aged 50+
|Year||% of workers aged 50+|
Source: ONS Population Projections, England; ONS Labour Market Statistics May 2013; ONS Pension Trends
Occupational segmentation is particularly stark for working women aged over 50, with two thirds of them working in just three sectors: education, health and retail40. There remains a mismatch between the sectors where women work and where job growth will be over the next decade. Some female-dominated industries and occupations are projected to grow – such as retail, caring and personal services – but these tend to be lower-paid jobs41. We must look at ways to reskill women to take advantage of the growing labour market in other areas.
If this is to happen, we must ensure the existing support mechanisms fully understand the needs and benefits of an older workforce. There is excellent practice underway in some Jobcentre Plus areas, where local flexibility is used to provide tailored support to those over 50. In West London, for example, Jobcentre Plus is working with the National Careers Service and local colleges to develop pre-employability courses and employer fairs for older customers.Go to B&Q case study
We urge the Government to reflect this flexible and local approach when delivering services to this age group, involving those using the service in its design.
Caring responsibilities can significantly reduce the opportunity for women to remain in the workforce. Over one in five women aged 50-64 is a carer for an elderly or disabled family member, and women are more likely than men to be full-time carers42. One quarter of working carers report that they feel they receive inadequate support to enable them to combine work and care, and only half think their employer is “carer-friendly”43. Also, 9% of carers drop out of work and a further 7% reduce their hours to care44, and the tipping point when carers can no longer balance work with caring can be as little as 10 hours a week45.
One quarter of carers who do not work say that they would like more paid work but think there are inadequate services or access to flexible working, or do not want to lose entitlement to benefits. The benefit to the economy of providing greater support to carers to stay in work has been estimated to be as great as £750 million to £1.5 billion46. The ageing population will only increase the numbers of people trying to combine caring with working.
Legislation is now in place outlawing age discrimination in employment, but changing attitudes and stereotypes is a slow process. Discrimination is often unconscious rather than deliberate, a reflection of ingrained stereotypes and workplace culture. Common misconceptions include:
These stereotypes are accepted too readily, depriving both employer and employee and hindering economic competitiveness. With the ageing workforce it is imperative that we challenge the myths.