Last updated: 03.09.14

Could e-learning help older employees remain in the workforce?

Companies could use e-learning tools as a means of helping older workers to remain in their current jobs beyond the traditional retirement age of 65.

A recent study has revealed that many companies are currently struggling to cope with the HR implications of the growing number of older people in the British workforce. A survey of more than 200 HR directors by benefits specialists MetLife UK has revealed that 54 per cent of companies are currently expecting the proportion of older employees to rise.

For many companies, this is not an issue, with around one-third of those polled reporting that their workplace has a positive attitude to older workers, while 54 per cent said their business stance on the issue was broadly neutral.

However, 12 per cent of respondents admitted their workplace had a negative attitude to older staff, which could be attributed to a number of preconceptions. Ten per cent of the HR leaders expressed a belief that older workers will take more time off, while six per cent believe the coming demographic shift will make career progression and recruitment more difficult.

Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said: "There is still an undercurrent of concern and misguided thinking that could inhibit positive change. Older workers have a tremendous amount to offer and shouldn't be seen as a problem but as a solution to many workplace challenges."

With a recent study from Saga revealing a 36 per cent increase in the number of over-65s in work between the start of the current parliament in May 2010 and the April to June quarter of 2014, it is clear that this trend is only set to accelerate in the coming years.

As such, forward-thinking companies could realise the benefits of using e-learning to upskill their older workers, ensuring they are able to acquire the knowledge they need to remain productive and useful members of the workforce for many years to come.

This could be particularly useful at a time when many of the country's businesses are suffering from a skills shortage, and underlines the fact that e-learning is a useful tool for workers of all ages.