BUSINESS in the Community (BITC) Cymru, together with Age Cymru and with support from The National Lottery Community Fund, has launched a three nations Age at Work conference, which will take place online on 9 March 2022 with participants from Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The conference aims to put age inclusion firmly on the agenda for businesses and government. A third of all workers in the UK are now aged 50 or over, and by 2030 half of all adults will be over 50.  

With this ageing population, the Age at Work conference will focus on the rights of older workers and the value and benefits of age inclusion for businesses and the economy.

The conference’s keynote speaker is mental health campaigner, broadcaster and best-selling author Ruby Wax, OBE. Using her education in psychology and psychotherapy, Ruby now teaches business communication in the public and private sector. She will share her optimistic outlook on how businesses that value people of all ages hold a key to success.

The Age at Work event will showcase the success of the first three years of the Age at Work programme, which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund across Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, through the experiences of businesses and individuals who have benefitted from it. 

It will provide essential insights to anyone interested in recruiting, retaining, and retraining people over the age of 50.

Sue Husband OBE, Director BITC Cymru: said, “Attitudes towards older workers urgently need to be reframed to take advantage of the gold mine of talent to be found in the over 50 workforce. Business in the Community UK-wide research into the ‘Missing Million’ states that there could be a potential £88 billion boost to the UK GDP if older workers were able to stay in work for longer.

“Prior to the pandemic, more than 72% of people in the UK aged 50-64 were in employment and one in 10 people aged 65 and over were still working.  With the ever-increasing state pension age, businesses must do more to retain and value their older workers.

“The impact of COVID has been greater on this older workforce than on those in middle age groups, with the over 50s experiencing the highest rise in redundancy rates. We also know that older people who become unemployed are more likely to be at risk of long-term unemployment than younger people.

“Businesses have an important part to play in supporting older employees – for the benefit of both the organisation and the individual. There is so much knowledge and experience being lost when older workers, for whatever reason, leave the workforce. The Age at Work Programme is a great starting point to shift attitudes and awareness.”

Age Cymru’s Chief Executive Victoria Lloyd said, “Some older workers need supported to confidently own the later stages of their career, to financially plan their retirement, or indeed to reclaim their place in the employment market.  Later life can throw up health challenges, changes of lifestyle and new carer responsibilities.  It is important for older workers to understand their rights, and to be supported to continue to make a valued and valuable contribution in the workplace.

“As an essential starting point, we know that over half of over 50s admit they don’t know the value of their pension.  The Age at Work programme helps older workers to take control of their finances and plan wisely towards retirement. Many tell us with this knowledge they can switch their mindset from “work to live”, to “live to work”, which they see as a much more positive, motivating, and healthy way of working.”

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland Director said: “We are delighted to fund this conference and to have supported this important project. It has made a real impact across the countries so far, helping older people develop new skills and supporting businesses to be more age inclusive, and we look forward to seeing what the next two years will bring. This conference is an excellent opportunity to evaluate and plan for the future, by hearing first-hand from those who have benefitted from it. Thanks to National Lottery players, over £30 million is raised each week for good causes like this, across the UK.”

For information and booking details for this FREE online conference on 9 March 2022, visit https://app.forumm.events/events/AgeAtWork or contact Anna Nash, anna.nash@bitc.org.uk