Future economy of UK predicted to be dominated by more senior workers

Legions of skilled, experienced and flexible grey go-getters will be driving the nation's economy come 2025, research finds.

Some 4.1 million (56 per cent) of those currently aged over 55, who haven’t yet retired, expect to work well past the current retirement age of 65, and more than one in 20 (6 per cent) plan to work beyond their 80th birthday, according to research by law firm Barcan+Kirby.

In contrast, less than half (44 per cent) of ‘millennials’ (adults aged 18-34) plan to work once they reach 65.

Figures reveal current retirees will need around£35,000 a year to maintain certain lifestyles, and Britain’s baby boomers see little reason to relinquish the way of life to which they’ve become accustomed and plan to remain in employment to continue funding it.

However, just one quarter (27 per cent) of adults who haven’t yet retired plan to work a traditional 9-5 role come 2025.

A quarter (25 per cent) plan to work more flexibly through a variety of means including shift work, having more than one job, flexible or part-time hours or other arrangements. This figure reduces slightly to 23 per cent for millennials.

Barcan+Kirby managing partner Chris Miller says the UK’s ageing workforce is a key issue for the coming years on a number of levels.

‘Legally, employers can’t discriminate on age, they must focus on capability of their employees when making decisions. Indeed, whereas 65 was a fairly standard retirement age, our research clearly shows those aged 65+ wanting to work.

‘And of course, they also want to work part-time, flexibly. This generation has a wealth of valuable skills and experience in contrast to the idealism of youth; employers are missing a trick if they do not look to this age group when recruiting.

Miller adds that the younger generations may find themselves competing against older, more experienced (and perhaps more used to hard graft) workers – the ‘grey go-getters’.

Meanwhile, while they hope to work for some years yet, many people are underestimating life expectancy, with women in particular underestimating it by around three years.

Despite the best intentions of this grey go-getting workforce to continue earning and funding their desired lifestyles, with the ever-diminishing state pension and increasing costs of later-life care, they will still need to have robust plans in place to ensure quality of life in their later years.

‘We’re beginning to see what we might call a ‘middle-class care gap’, whereby people who would otherwise consider themselves fairly affluent find themselves thrust into public sector care homes as they have failed to plan adequately for the cost and length of later life,’ ads Miller.

‘With this we can expect further increases in multi-generational living, as housing shortages, the rising cost of childcare and an ageing population squeeze the traditional family unit at both ends.’

Further reading on older workers

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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