New research from City & Guilds Group reveals that 54% of employers say they can’t get the skilled workers they need, but only 14% would consider recruiting or retraining older workers.

C&G’s research found that adults aged 55+ are the least likely to have undertaken formal workplace training in the last five years, with only half (53%) having done so. This compares to 67% of 35–54-year-olds and 83% of 18–34-year-olds.

Over a third (38%) of respondents aged 55+ report having last received formal workplace training over 10 years ago, or never at all; 47% think they have all of the skills they need to succeed in the workplace; and 20% said the last workplace training they received was not useful for their current job day to day.

City & Guilds Group’s recent Skills Index report calls on employers to harness the valuable experience of older workers to fill skills gaps but only 14% of businesses said they would consider turning to recruiting or retraining older workers or retirees to tackle skills shortages.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group, commented: “We are all living longer, healthier lives than previous generations, meaning more people will also need to work until they are at least 70 to ensure they have enough saved to retire. But we risk consigning a generation of valuable workers to the scrapheap, just when many industries are crying out for more workers post Brexit and as we unlock society after the pandemic.

Kevin Rowan, Head of Organising Services and Learning at the TUC added: “Access to learning opportunities are an important feature of good quality work and fulfilling lives, including maintaining good mental health. Older workers being disadvantaged or prevented from learning is both economically and socially damaging, short-sighted and counterproductive. We need genuine lifelong learning for all.”

Staff shortages threaten employer confidence in hiring

In the three months to June, employers’ confidence in their ability to hire new staff and make investment decisions rose to a net level of +33 – the highest level ever recorded by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s JobsOutlook survey, which began in mid-2016.

The REC’s latest survey also found that business confidence in the UK economy rose by six percentage points to net: +17. This is the second rolling quarter in a row the barometer has been in positive territory.

“But a number of factors including the ‘pingdemic’ are causing serious staff shortages now,” said Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC. “We have the opportunity to shift perceptions around flexible working once and for all and make it a positive option. Government and employers urgently need to join forces to create a skills system that delivers the staff the country needs.”

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