• International Workplace
  • 18 December 2017

Call for employers to help older workers become ‘digital adopters’

Employers must do more to train and upskill older workers and prepare them for the digital economy, according to a new survey and report from Business in the Community.

The ageing population is leading to an older talent pool, but the survey found that those over 50 are not receiving the training and skills development they need to succeed in the digital era, and with technology shaping the jobs of tomorrow, the results raise concerns about future skills shortages within the UK workforce.

The survey of nearly 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, found that 62% of workers in their 50s had not received training in computer skills, and women and manual workers were less likely than younger employees to have received training in other crucial skills such as project management, customer service and digital communications.

The report, The Missing Link: An ageing workforce in the digital era, aims to help businesses address the gaps in their training and calls on employers to support older workers to be ‘digital adopters’, ensuring that development and work opportunities are accessible.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Only 25% of employees aged 50-59 and 22% of those aged 60-69 felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities, compared to 44% of 18-39-year-olds and 32% of 40-49-year-olds.
  • Older workers were also more likely to feel that their employer did not inform them about how technology and automation would impact their job compared to younger employees.

Recommendations from the report include creating a company culture of lifelong learning, developing targeted training and reskilling support for specific groups of older workers, and clearly communicating the impact of automation and technology.

The report is supported by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Nupur Malik, HR Director at TCS, said:

“We believe that training and development is an ongoing process and support all our employees to gain the skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age. Today’s report shows the importance of continued skills development for workers. Taking action will mean more businesses can thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment and support employees to stay in good work for longer.”

Jenny Lincoln, Age Research and Policy Manager, Business in the Community, said:

"Too few older workers are getting the training and information they need to prepare for increased automation and technology in the world of work. With a rising retirement age, and fewer young people entering the workforce, it’s vital that employers invest in training older workers so that they are equipped with both the skills and confidence to make the most of the digital age. By supporting older workers to be ‘digital adopters’, employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages."

Read the full report here.