In the wake of a rapidly changing work landscape, many people are getting left behind. This is particularly true for the country’s older workers, as many are finding it hard to keep up with the modern workforce. This in turn compounds the already dire problem of age discrimination. In this article, we will be exploring some of the factors, such as evolving workplace practices and new regulations that affect the ageing workforce and whether enough is being done to adequately protect them. 

The good news is that People Management notes how the government is aware about the plight of ageing workers, with Theresa May stating in a speech that they should be able to “enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of having a job if they want one”. Although this certainly gives hope that the government will take concrete action towards the matter, the need to make such a statement reflects just how big the problem has become. The Prime Minister notes how an alarming number of older workers are dropping out of the labour market prematurely, a phenomenon that affects the country as well as the workers -not only does the country risk wasting precious talent but workers are also left susceptible to struggling in their later years. 

One of the driving factors behind the struggles of the ageing workforce is, of course, technology. Because technology now evolves at a breakneck speed, Nick Ismail writes that the impact this can have on the ageing workforce is that many now find that the jobs they used to have are obsolete. This has resulted in numerous industries grappling with a massive skills gap while also not being able to employ older workers. Machine learning, for example, is capable of processing large amounts of data to make business decisions on its own. This comes at the expense of more senior employees whose years of experience are suddenly no longer needed. Although many of these same technologies can also be utilised to help retrain employees, it still poses a challenge that not all businesses are ready for. For many businesses adapting to new technologies is seen as more important than protecting and training the ageing workforce. 

Another factor that has blindsided UK businesses is Brexit, which has also made the job market even harder to navigate. FXCM reports how Brexit surprised political experts and the resulting negotiations have shown just how complex leaving the EU is. Although all demographics in the UK are undoubtedly affected by Brexit in one way or another, ageing workers will be one of the hardest hit, as Brexit will affect age discrimination laws. Without this protection more ageing workers could be faced with losing their jobs and being unable to find new ones. 

The irony is that an article by the Huffington Post explains how an ageing workforce will be needed because Brexit will make it harder for young talent to come into the UK. It is then worth noting that a projected 12.5 million jobs are expected to open up in the UK within the next decade, but at the same time only 7 million young adults will be expected to enter the workforce. Brexit will then force employers to consider hiring older workers as there are currently 3 million people aged between 50 and the state pension age who are out of work. Although health issues are certainly a factor here, discriminatory recruitment policies also play a role. 

It is then only fitting that there is an increasing clamour to increase the retirement age in the UK. Whilst calls for an increased retirement age are in conjunction with rising life expectancies, this only increases the need to make sure employers are properly acting in consideration of older workers. Considering that the number of people over 65 is projected to hit 2.1 billion globally by 2050, both businesses and the governments in the UK and across the world need to consider providing programmes to support a more senior workforce. 

In conclusion, the undeniable truth is that a rapidly ageing workforce cannot be ignored, especially in the wake of Brexit. Although officials, including Theresa May, have promised to provide solutions in the form of national retraining schemes to help workers adapt their skills, there is no silver bullet solution for the problems faced by an ageing workforce. Indeed, older workers in the UK will need combined efforts from all sectors if they are to be adequately protected.