Despite the problems caused by Brexit, such as legislative inaction, lost growth and economic uncertainty, business in the UK still seems to be booming. This can be ascertained from its employment figures which continue to break records and show no sign of slowing down. Figures show that there are now 32.7 million people working in the UK, which is the highest since figures began in 1971. This represents an unemployment rate of about 4% which is also a record.
Growth in mature employment
One of the biggest increases in the number of people working in the UK has come from the over-50s, with research showing that they have been the source of 80% of this employment growth, which equates to around two million people. It is further estimated that, by 2024, a third of all workers in the UK will be over 50. With this growing number of older people staying in employment, accommodations have had to be made by employers, as well as the provision of information and services.
What’s also noticeable is the huge increase in women over the age of 65 who are still working. In fact, this cohort was the fastest growing employment sector, increasing by 67%. While for some this may have been about staying active and maintaining a professional identity, for others, unfortunately, staying in work past retirement age has been forced out of necessity.
How older women are coping
The decision to bring the pension age for women up to 65 from 60, in line with that for men, meant that many women who had been planning for an earlier retirement instead had to stay on for another half a decade. This would especially have affected women who, for example, may have passed up an education opportunity late in their career, presuming they’d be retiring in a few years, only to have to stay on another five.
As well as this, divorce rates for women over 60 are at highs never seen in recent history, while home ownership is also decreasing in the UK while rent continues to rise, leading to more uncertainty and instability. This means that, against their preference, older women are being forced to continue working into old age. A survey from the non-profit, Rest Less, found that: “45% of women surveyed who plan to work beyond their state pension age said it was because they simply cannot afford to retire”.
A larger problem
With the UK’s population having gone from 16% being 65 and over to 20% in the past 20 years and set to go to 25% in the next 20, how the country looks after its older citizens is becoming an increasingly important subject. The situation could get even worse after Brexit with hard won rights in danger of being unilaterally abolished.
Changes for business in the UK have included increased accessibility and technological training, which has allowed many over 65s to become adept at using communication and project tools. However, it is as a nation itself that Britain must address these glaring issues and come together to protect the most vulnerable members of society.