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Older Workers – reducing barriers to employment for the over 50s in Scotland

06 Aug 2021

Older Workers – reducing barriers to employment for the over 50s in Scotland.

Scotland’s population is ageing and one in three members of the Scottish workforce is now aged 50 or older. Many organisations have developed policies to reduce discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation or gender. However, with demographic change, and the particular challenge of an ageing workforce in Scotland, the Scottish Government commissioned research to increase a focus on age inclusion at work.

Age discrimination is invisible and is seen as less important than other forms of discrimination, but ultimately it’s the one type of discrimination that may affect us all.

Professor Wendy Loretto and Dr Laura Airey’s research focused on the implications of extended working life policies for employers and older workers. It looked at the opportunities and challenges associated with managing an older workforce. Their research has achieved three main outcomes.

1. Informed Scottish Government policies to improve older workers’ labour market position. The research has been cited in the Older People’s Framework, the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, and the Women Returners Programme.

The research was really useful and actually quite vital to inform policy development across Scottish Government. We used it to raise awareness across Scottish Government of the issues that older workers face. So it informed policy development in other areas, whether it’s transport, care services, care provision. As part of our policy development when we come up with projects and funding streams we make sure that it targets the people that need the help. So I think it has had an immediate impact on individuals and also employers too.

Lorraine Lee, Scottish Government, Fair Work and Skills Division

2. Underpinned development of Age Scotland’s Age Inclusive Matrix (AIM). This innovative HR consultancy service supports businesses to develop age-inclusive workplace policies and practices.

The research paper that came from Edinburgh University was relevant because it was by far the strongest Scottish based research. The matrix is now going to be delivered in 35 Scottish organisations, doing a real deep dive to make those organisations as age inclusive as possible.

Mike Douglas, Director, Social Enterprises, Age Scotland

3. Raised the profile of ‘age-inclusion’ within the Equality, Diversion, and Inclusion agenda among Scottish employers. Key strategic organisations now collaborate to promote age-inclusive workplaces.

Wendy and Laura’s work has had significant impact to the HR profession in Scotland and the work that CIPD Scotland has been delivering with its members and its wider stakeholder groups. It’s made us think about our own research and insight in a different way and through the eyes of an older worker.

Lee Ann Panglea, Head of CIPD, Scotland and Northern Ireland
I believe the University of Edinburgh’s work had a real-world impact on TAQA as an organisation to support our age inclusiveness.

Pauline Robertson, Senior HR Business Partner, TAQA

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