Tom leads way as scheme targets older workers...

Tom Brogan, 91, loves his job as a supermarket porter at Asda
Tom Brogan, 91, loves his job as a supermarket porter at Asda

He might not realise it, but Wigan pensioner Tom Brogan is something of a trailblazer.

Nearly three decades after he first entered retirement, 91-year-old Tom is still working.

Older people can be written off by their employers, but we are asking employers to consider carefully the overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce, and then to act on it.

Andy Briggs

The great-grandfather spends three days a week working as a porter at Asda at Robin Park in Wigan.

And despite his advancing years, the nonagenarian still enjoys his job.

Mr Brogan, who lives in Winstanley, told our sister paper, the Wigan Observer: “I’m quite happy. I know everybody and everybody knows me.

“I think if I was off now for six or seven weeks, I would be bored. I don’t say I can’t wait to finish - I like being here.”

And today the government has launched a campaign to get companies to employ more people like Tom.

The Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, Andy Briggs, says employers should increase the number of older people in the UK workforce by one million over the next five years to combat age bias.

To address the widening skills gap, tackle age bias in work and enable people to stay in work longer, every he is suggesting employers should increase the number of older workers by 12% by 2022.

The target is aimed at supporting older people who want the same range of options and opportunities as younger colleagues, and to be recognised for their experience and expertise. In recognising the skills older people bring to the workplace, employers will benefit from the breadth and depth of their knowledge.

The Government appointed Mr Briggs, who is CEO of Aviva UK Life, as its Business Champion for Older Workers alongside the Business in the Community Age at Work Leadership Team of which he is Chair.

Mr Briggs said: “One million more older people in work by 2022 is an ambitious yet necessary target. There are 15 million people of this age group in the labour market, yet only nine million are in work. We want to get this to 10 million by 2022,” said Andy.

“This target is achievable if employers commit to taking an honest and sustained approach to understanding age bias in their organisations. Older people can be written off by their employers, but we are asking employers to consider carefully the overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce, and then to act on it. We live in an ageing society so it is critical that people are able to work for as long as they need and want to and there are overwhelming benefits for both employers and employees.

“Many people aged over 50 want to continue to develop their careers, learn new skills, try new things and also share their broad knowledge and experience. This is good for everyone, and particularly for employers and their businesses who will benefit from drawing on the talent, creativity and experience of all of their employees, regardless of their age.”

By 2022, 14.5 million more jobs will be created but only 7 million younger workers will enter the workforce – leaving 7.5 million roles unfilled.

Rachael Saunders, Business in the Community’s Age at Work Director, said: “Our role is to raise awareness of the injustice facing so many older workers and people in the UK. The over 50s are a key part of the UK workforce and employers need to open their eyes to this talent pool. We are here to provide employers with the practical guidance and support they need to take action. We urge employers to get behind this target and work with us to prevent people from leaving work unnecessarily early and to benefit from an age diverse workforce.”

At today’s launch event Mr Briggs will unveil a ‘How To Guide’ to support employers in achieving their 12% target by understanding their workforce profile, listening to what their older employers need, and taking action to improve their retention and recruitment of older employees.

The project will track progress by reviewing the government’s Labour Force Survey statistics for increases in the total number of older people in work and in the employment rates of older workers aged over 50, and is committed to supporting employers in meeting the target.

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “By 2022, more than one in three workers will be over 50. Employment rates for this age group have been growing, but they remain much lower than for younger people, with a rapid falling off after the age of 55. Increasing the numbers of people over 50 in fulfilling work is good for society, good for business and most importantly good for people themselves.

“To achieve this ambitious target, we need age-friendly workplaces, which allow people to sustain productive and healthy working lives for longer.”

For more information visit: http://age.bitc.org.uk/BusinessChampion

* Are you, or do you know someone who is happily working past retirement age? Email gaynor.clarke@jpress.co.uk