How has COVID disproportionately impacted older workers?

New ONS figures out today show the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on older workers. Between December 2020 and February 2021, employment rates of 50-64 year-olds have continued to fall from 72.6 to 71.1%, and from 11.5 to 10.4% for those aged 65+ despite an increase in the population aged 50 years and over in this period.

Older workers still in work have also reported working fewer working hours than usual, and a quarter of all employees on furlough (1.3 million) are aged 50 or over.

Older workers contribute to economic growth. Our economy needs to better use their skills and talents.

We know that age discrimination hits older people hard and that older workers who find themselves unemployed as a result of COVID-19 are likely to find it much more difficult than other ages to get themselves another job.

The Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee needs to go beyond offering a Level 3 (A level equivalent) course to individuals who don’t have one and provide support for reskilling of adults of all ages.

Government must invest more to ensure that ill health and caring responsibilities don’t make it even more difficult for older people to re-enter the workforce.

Without further urgent support from Government, a huge number of people aged over 50 could find early retirement forced on them.


Read the full ONS report, “Living Longer: Older workers during the COVID-19 pandemic” here.

ILC are launching an international competition on Thursday, 20 May 2021 to identify and award some of the most promising innovations responding to and making the most of the opportunities of an ageing workforce. Find out more.

ILC are also launching a report on the overlap between ageism and ableism in the workplace on Friday, 14 May 2021. Find out more.