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The Unretirement Uprising – 55/Redefined’s 2022 Ageism Report

In our 2022 study, The Unretirement Uprising, in partnership with Reed Talent Solutions, we found the relationship between workplaces and over-50s is broken and a retirement rebellion could be the solution.

The UK’s over-50s expect to face age discrimination when searching for a new job, according to our new research published today, 14 November 2022.

The Unretirement Uprising – The retirement rebellion that could save our workplaces, by 55/Redefined in partnership with recruitment company, Reed Talent Solutions, reveals:

  • Two thirds of over-50s predict age will work against them in recruitment process
  • 70 per cent feel it is difficult to start a new career over 50
  • Almost a third (30 per cent) of retirees felt forced to retire

The findings are from an independent study into the experiences of more than 4,000 over-50s across the UK. Two-thirds (65 per cent) of these people believe their age works against them when applying for jobs, while 70 per cent feel it is difficult to pursue new career opportunities over the age of 50. Despite this, older workers are keen to do what it takes to remain in the workplace, with six in 10 open to reskilling for a new role.

This research revisits and builds on the findings of our 2021 study, Shut Out, Forced Out and Overlooked.

As UK employers grapple with the biggest talent shortfall on record, this generation – capable of injecting around £20 billion to the economy by staying in work – feel forgotten, despite there being 1.2 million job vacancies in the UK between July and September this year alone and a shortage of candidates.

The report also shines a light on a digital disconnect between the over-50s and employment. With just 16 per cent of over-50s active on LinkedIn – it may come as no surprise that four in five of those surveyed have not been contacted by a recruiter in the past 12 months, making the case for over-50s to embrace LinkedIn and for those with vacancies to find other means to engage this audience. Beyond this, the report calls for employers to invest in age diversity like they would other diversity and inclusion metrics.

The report also shows:

  • 47% of employees want flexibility from an employer
  • 32% work for a sense of fulfilment and purpose
  • 21% would select an employer based on their age policy
  • 30% of those that have retired felt forced to do so
  • One in five have been overlooked for promotion due to age

Lyndsey Simpson, founder and CEO at 55/Redefined, said:

"The relationship between the over-50s and work is broken. While progress has been made across other diversity and inclusion measures, age is falling by the wayside and it’s not just morally wrong, but fiscally irresponsible. In a struggling economy, awash with job vacancies, the over-50s could solve the UK’s talent problems, but action needs to be taken.

“Employers must do deep work to improve their age diversity to mirror the positive change we’ve seen across gender or any other characteristic. Actively looking to attract and retain over-50s – including welcoming the notion of unretirement, giving the over-50s the choice to remain, leave and re-enter the workplace – is key.”

The research, which also found that almost a third (30 per cent) of over-50s that have retired felt forced to do so, calls for ‘unretirement’ as a new work phase to help over-50s remain, leave and re-enter the workplace.

Lee Gudgeon, managing director, Reed Talent Solutions said:

“Over-50s are vital to the UK economy, bringing much-needed experience, resilience and a depth of skills. While the ‘Great Resignation’ can be traced directly to the pandemic, many of the problems that led to the relationship breakdown between older workers and businesses - as outlined in our comprehensive report – were already in place.

“Age discrimination remains - both perceived and real - and we need to address this if we want to retain and reattract this rich vein of talent. We need to encourage them to be active on LinkedIn and job boards to ensure they can engage with our opportunities, while continuing to uphold best practice such as removing date of birth from CVs.

“The challenge is now on companies and recruiters to develop an employee value proposition which is wholly inclusive. Better training for older workers, more flexible working options, mid-life MoTs, and an inclusive environment mean workers will stay longer, learn new skills, and remain motivated and at the top of their game.”

Older workers are an integral part of any workforce, bringing experience, knowledge of the internal workings of their business, exceptional levels of resilience and a real depth of skills.

Issues such as age discrimination and out-of-date perceptions need to be addressed.