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Home > News > October 2006 > 27 October 2006

Improve urges employers to retain older workers

Employers in food and drink manufacturing are being urged to introduce more flexible employment opportunities to help retain older workers.

New research commissioned by Improve, the food and drink Sector Skills Council, shows that opportunities such as shorter hours, working from home, or self employment, are more likely to entice employees aged 55 and over to remain in their jobs. The research highlights the fact that already 19 per cent of over-55s in the sector are in part time employment.

"With the sector experiencing continued difficulty in recruiting younger workers, employers must make retention of older staff a priority," explained Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve. "There are 56,000 workers expected to retire from the food and drink manufacturing sector over the next eight years, but at the current levels of recruitment there won't be enough new starters to fill the vacancies this creates. This will result in skills shortages, with not enough workers to do the jobs, and skills gaps, as the knowledge of these older, experienced workers is lost.

"Although Improve is implementing a number of initiatives to raise awareness of careers in the sector, and to attract more highly-skilled workers, it will take time for recruitment levels to rise.

"The new employment discrimination laws mean that people can no longer be forced to retire once they reach 65. This has a positive impact on all involved - employers can continue to benefit from the depth of knowledge that older workers have built up through years of experience, and employees who want to carry on working and earning money will have the opportunity to do so.

"Our research suggests that many older workers want to continue working, but also want to enjoy more leisure time. It's clear that in order to maximise productivity and benefit from the expertise of older workers, employers have to find ways to become more flexible."

A copy of the report, "Investigation into the impact of an ageing workforce on the UK food and drink manufacturing industry", can be downloaded from the Improve website.

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