Pensions Minister Steve Webb is “determined” to tackle age discrimination by helping older people reach their full potential and work for longer.

He revealed his commitment to the cause yesterday while launching a report by the International Longevity Centre–UK (ILC-UK), which found that European Governments want higher levels of participation from older workers.

According to ‘Working Longer: An EU perspective’, there are 13.5 million job vacancies in the UK that need to be filled over the next 10 years, but only seven million young people expected to leave school and college during that time.

Mr Webb said: “There are more older people in work than ever before, despite difficult economic conditions. Back in 2011 we took action so that older people were no longer discriminated against by abolishing the default retirement age.

“I am determined that more employers will make the most of the talents and experience of older workers.”

‘Working Longer: An EU perspective’ shows that incentives to retire have been removed across Europe, while state pensions have started to increase. It also reveals that Government initiatives to support older workers are often poorly evaluated for effectiveness and that a target set by the European Union (EU) in 2001 to achieve a 50 per cent employment rate of older workers by 2010 was not met.

The report also reveals that some EU countries have started to take steps to encourage people to stay working for longer, including a gradual retirement scheme in France which allows employers to reduce their hours when they reach 60 and receive a proportion of their pension in return.

In ‘Working Longer: An EU perspective’ the ILC-UK sets out a number of challenges for EU countries, including improving health, tackling ageism and skilling up the older workforce.

Commenting on the findings of the report, David Sinclair, assistant director of policy and communications at ILC-UK, said: “Europe’s economy is driven by the skills and talents of its people. As our society ages, it will therefore be increasingly important to make the most of the potential of older workers. Yet few European Governments have got to grips with the challenges of an older workforce. We must not however, pitch one generation against another.

“European policymakers must focus on tackling the barriers of employability across the life course. Flexible working and opportunities for people of all ages to develop their skills are vital. We must tackle ageism whilst also offering older people the opportunity to retire gradually. Governments across Europe must better evaluate initiatives and share their success with their colleagues.”

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