The population is ageing: by 2030, half of all adults in the UK will be over 50 years old.
In parts of Cumbria the proportion will be higher still, around 56% in South Lakeland and 55% in Eden.
Inevitably, employers will become more dependent on older workers and that may require greater flexibility and a change of mindset.
The British Chambers of Commerce – to which Cumbria Chamber is affiliated – has been working with the Department for Work and Pensions, Aviva UK and Business in the Community to produce materials that help businesses address skills gaps by recruiting, retaining and supporting older workers.
We have produced a toolkit to help employers embrace age inclusion in the workplace – a three-step process based on Look, Listen, Act.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is vital that employers recruit and retain older workers, given that the working-age population in Cumbria is shrinking.
“It is projected to fall from 250,000 today to just over 230,000 by 2030 and that will make it more difficult for businesses to fill vacancies.
“We have to encourage older workers to stay in employment for longer, rather than taking early retirement.
“That will require employers to tackle age bias and be more flexible, perhaps allowing older employees to work part-time if they want to and supporting them through later-life transitions such as caring for family members.
“Our toolkit explains how to go about this.”
He added: “There are business benefits to having an age-diverse workforce. Older workers have experience and maturity, which can be invaluable.
“And different generations have different ways of making sense of the world and therefore different ways of approaching problems and decisions. This diversity of thought can be leveraged for business success.”
The British Chambers of Commerce has also recorded a podcast with Andy Briggs, the Chief Executive of Aviva UK, the Government’s older workers business champion.