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Wales TUC launches guide on supporting older workers

25 August 2020

WALES TUC has launched a new ‘Supporting older workers’ guide on raising awareness of how trade union members and reps can support workers over the age of 50.

Wales’ population is ageing rapidly. There are 265,000 more people over the age of 50 than 20 years ago. In 10 years’, the number of over-50’s living in Wales will have risen to 1.4 million – a remarkable 33% increase since 2000.

As the general population ages, then Wales’ workforce follows suit. There are more workers aged 50 and over in Wales than ever before. By 2025, 1 in 3 Welsh workers will be over-50.

Working lives are also lasting longer. Since the 1980’s, the average retirement age has been increasing after a period of sustained, post-war fall in favour of early retirement.

Wales TUC research has found that a third of over-50s expect to retire later than they envisioned when they were 40. A significant group of workers believe that they will continue working into their 70’s.

Wales TUC has identified financial insecurity, the removal of the mandatory retirement age and increased demand for the skills of many older workers as factors driving these increases.

The new toolkit provides ideas and resources to help trade union officers and representatives to:

  • push employers to enact more age-friendly workplace policies   
  • tackle age-based discrimination in the workplace  
  • create more inclusive, healthy and sustainable environments for all workers as they grow older 

Wales TUC Equalities Policy Officer Rhianydd Williams explains why age is a trade union issue: "All workers deserve dignity, safety and security at work. But for far too many older people that is not the reality. 

"As trade unionists we believe in furthering the opportunities for older people to access good quality, decent jobs whilst defending the right to retirement and the rights of those too ill to continue working. 

"Skills shortages are a problem in sectors such as education, care, construction and customer service. Employers need to make better use of the skills and experiences of older workers and to develop more sustainable approaches for them. 

"Unions are key to promoting age-inclusive approaches to recruitment, career development and job and workplace design. Age-friendly workplaces are a key equality issue for unions, as well as a health and safety one.’"

The guide also outlines several reasons why employers should value older workers, based on their experience, adaptability and value for money. An estimated 14.5 million vacancies have been created between 2012 and 2022 in the UK, but only 7 million workers are estimated to have entered the job market in that time.

The new toolkit can be found at https://www.tuc.org.uk/older-workers-toolkit