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Workforce (50 Years Plus)

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7th April 2005.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in, and what percentage of, the workforce were aged 50 years or above in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; what the percentage change was between those years; what his Department's policy is on numbers of workers aged 50 years or above; whether he plans changes to this policy; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister for pensions, Department for Work and Pensions

The information on the number and percentage of the workforce aged 50 and over is in the table.

Number of people aged 50 and over in employment andchange on previous year
Year to November 2003 Year to November 2004 Percentage change(21)
Population aged 50 and over 18,969,000 19,127,000 +0.8
Population aged 50 and over as a percentage of population aged 16 and over 41.8 41.9 +0.1
People aged 50 and over in employment 6,977,000 7,120,000 +2.0
People aged 50 and over in employment as a percentage of people aged 16 and over in employment 25.7 26.0 +0.3

(21)Figures are percentage changes in the numbers, and percentage point changes in the percentages.

Source:

Labour Force Survey, average of four quarters to end November.

In announcing the Department's five year strategy in February this year, we signalled our long term aspiration to move towards an 80 per cent. overall employment rate, and envisage 1 million more older workers in the labour force, including many who will choose to work beyond state pension age.

We have set targets to increase the employment rate of people aged 50 to state pension age, and reduce the gap between their employment rate and the overall employment rate. From April 2005 there will be an additional target to increase the employment rate of people aged 50 to 69 by 2008.

We want to increase the choices available for older workers to remain in, or rejoin, the labour market to allow them to continue contributing their skills and experience in the workplace and save towards retirement income. To support this we are changing tax and pension rules, increasing state pension deferral rates and options and introducing age discrimination legislation covering employment that will introduce a default retirement age of 65.

In May we will be launching a national guidance campaign to raise employers awareness of, and ability to adopt, flexible employment and retirement opportunities in order to increase the recruitment, retention and training of older workers.

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