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Last updated: 16.07.15

Mass exodus 'could lead to skills shortage'

A "mass exodus" of skills caused by retirements could leave the UK with a severe skills shortage, unless something is done to avert the problem.

That is the view of the CIPD, which has responded to new government data in the Labour Force Surveys showing that the employment rate for workers between the age of 53 and 67 has dropped by 64 per cent in the past few years.

Currently, there are 9.4 million workers in the UK who are over the age of 50, meaning as much as 30 per cent of the UK’s current workforce is expected to retire in the next 20 years.

This, according to the CIPD and International Longevity Centre, means that the UK economy could struggle to fill as many as one million jobs by 2035, unless businesses do more to invest in the future.

This applies to both the recruitment and development of staff, as well as the retention of experienced ones, explained Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD.

"Too many employers are sleep-walking towards a significant skills problem that risks derailing their business strategy if not addressed," he explained.

"Not enough organisations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even know enough about the makeup of their workforce."

The sectors deemed most at risk of skills shortages in the coming years are health, social work, education, public administration, manufacturing, construction and transport, all of which have around a 30% proportion of over-50s currently making up their workforce,

As such, it is important for organisations to start thinking about how they can transfer older workers’ knowledge to other parts of the business when they retire, Mr Wilmott noted.

"As well as equipping line managers with an understanding of older employees’ needs, employers must continue to invest in people’s training and development at different stages of their careers," he concluded.

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