Retired staff urged to come back into work to help fix UK jobs crisis


Tempt retired staff back into the workplace to help fix UK jobs crisis, says top UK recruitment guru

A top recruitment guru has demanded urgent action to tempt retired staff back to work to combat Britain’s employment crisis.

James Reed, chairman of employment agency Reed, said luring them into jobs could pay a ‘crucial’ role in filling a record number of vacancies.

The Centre for Ageing Better charity estimated there are more than 200,000 fewer over-50s in Britain’s labour market than there were before the pandemic.

Staff shortages: James Reed, chairman of employment agency Reed, said luring retired workers back into jobs could pay a ‘crucial’ role in filling a record numbers of vacancies

The phenomenon has been billed ‘The Grey Resignation’ – a nod to the widely acknowledged ‘Great Resignation’ of staff since March 2020.

Reed’s plea comes as last week it emerged that there were as many posts vacant as there were people looking for work for the first time ever. Employers are struggling to find staff with the right skills for the job, forcing up wages in many sectors.

Reed has laid out a five-point plan which includes shorter and more flexible shifts; options to work from home, an increase in advisory roles as firms hit turbulent times, an extension of Government aid to help younger unemployed people into work and a reversal of this month’s national insurance hikes.

He believes workers with specific qualifications such as skilled project managers and drivers of taxis and lorries could fill roles.

Professions such as teachers and airport security workers, which require background checks, would also benefit.

Reed’s intervention came after a deluge of older workers decided to retire during the pandemic, as repeated lockdowns created uncertainty in every sector from aviation to retail and hospitality.

The smaller number of Britons born after the ‘baby boomer’ generation has also led to a reduced pool of workers to draw from, while Brexit and the pandemic have led to some overseas workers returning home.

The number of unfilled jobs rose to a record of more than 1.3million in March, the Office for National Statistics said. And statistics last week also revealed that for the first time there are as many posts vacant as there are unemployed workers hunting for a job.

Reed said older workers were ‘invaluable’. ‘I think companies should think creatively about appealing to that group, especially now when there’s such a shortage of workers of all ages,’ he said.

He added that this had been demonstrated by the contribution of his own father – the company’s founder and its oldest employee, Alec Reed, 88. 

‘He’s been very useful to me recently. He’s the only person in the company to remember what it’s like running a company in a period of high inflation.’

The recruitment chief said programmes such as the Government’s Restart Scheme, which supports long-term unemployed people who are claiming Universal Credit to find jobs, should be extended to older people not claiming benefits.

‘If you have been out of work it can affect your confidence and your awareness of your options and possibilities. 

‘These schemes can help people can get back to work – preparing CVs, preparing for interviews, additional training, courses that and add to your existing qualifications,’ he said.

Reed also said creating more senior non-executive or advisory roles would help draw on older employees’ experience. ‘Multi-generational workforces perform better because you have a range of perspectives,’ he said.

And bosses need to have faith in older candidates’ abilities to use technology. ‘It could be there’s a lack of confidence there but the reality is technology gets easier and easier to use year by year and the time taken to train someone shorter,’ he added.

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