Research from recruitment firm Robert Walters and job board Totaljobs revealed that 41% of over 50 year old workers say there is a lack of promotion and career development opportunities available their current workplace.

Totaljobs and Robert Walters surveyed over 1,000 employees in their 50s during January and February 2019. Its results are very similar to a study in the US analysing older Americans’ attitudes to development at work.

The research

According to the research, 37% of people in their fifties are working in middle management or below. With 50 year olds having at least a decade of work before retirement (and quite possibly 15-20+ years work), this means that there is room for progression and further career development to higher levels of seniority. However, 41% of workers over 50 feel they lack opportunities at their current workplace.

It is not only a lack of awareness that is hindering people in their fifties from career progression. A fifth (21%) note that a lack of training acts as a barrier to their career development.

Career development and progression for older workers

When it comes to progression, workers in their 50s are uncertain of how to achieve this, with a third (34%) stating they are not at all aware of what they need to do to secure a promotion.

There was a lot of difference across industry sectors. this The research identified those industries that are doing better at creating opportunities for older workers to progress.

People working in the insurance, environment and education sectors feel they are most aware of how to land a promotion (64%, 50% and 42% respectively). However, those in sales, social care, law and healthcare were much less certain (9%, 13%, 22% and 23% respectively).

If progression paths aren’t made clear, 45% of workers in their fifties would consider looking for a role elsewhere.

Skills gap

There is a significant skills gap in the UK: 91% of organisations report struggling to find workers with the right skills. Older workers could help plug that gap.

Overlooking the upskilling of older workers poses a risk to UK businesses and older workers could add value and boost output.

...[P]romoting inclusive employment policies and highlighting progression paths is essential in making sure experienced workers feel valued. Failing to invest in older workers could lead to them feeling devalued and ‘checking out’ long before retirement.
— Alexandra Sydney, Group Marketing Director at Totaljobs
The key takeaway from our findings is that an ageing and underused workforce is not an issue of the future, but a problem that exists right now.
— Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters