The Missing Million – Recommendations for Action

Apr 22, 2015 | REPORTS

The Missing Million research, undertaken by ILC-UK with Business in the Community and PRIME, has identified more than a million people aged over 50 who are forced out of work involuntarily.

The research has also found that barriers to returning to work, such as age-related bias and poor understanding among employers of the needs of older workers, are leading many to seek self-employment.

This, the third and final report in the series, highlights major themes and provides recommendations for business and government to help people to stay in work for longer.

Why it matters
Our population is ageing. Currently, 10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old and this number is projected to nearly double, to around 19 million, by 2050.

As we all live longer and healthier lives, we will also need to work for longer to pay towards our pensions, health and social care in older age.

The changes that come with population ageing will leave some groups at a particular disadvantage – including the low paid, with few pension savings, and manual workers whose job is harder to do as they age.

Not only do we have the missing million people who have been forced out of work before retirement age, but we also have 1.1 million people who are currently working beyond state pension age. They are the second missing million – widely ignored in policy making and public discourse, yet vital as they set the precedent for the future model of working lives.

Older workers are vital for the future of the economy
The effects of an ageing population are apparent even in the short term. Between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 12.5 million jobs will be opened up through people leaving the workforce and an additional 2 million new jobs will be created, yet only 7 million new younger people will enter the workforce to fill these jobs. We need to change the world of work now, to encourage and enable people to continue working in to later life.

We need to take action now
The need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting and retaining older workers is crucially important for businesses. In particular, industries with a higher proportion of workers aged over 50 – including public administration, education and health, agriculture, forestry and fishing – will need to adapt their practices quickly to ensure they can retain and recruit the older workers who are fundamental to their workforce.