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The crucial role workplaces can play in proving good work and helping people extend their working lives has been highlighted by a new research report launched this week in Fife.

With funding from Fife Health and Wellbeing Alliance, research was commissioned by the Workplace Team, Health Promotion Service, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to investigate current knowledge, understanding and management of an ageing workforce and older workers amongst workplaces in Fife. The research was carried out by the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University.

The research was launched at a partner organisation workshop event on 15th August, 2017 at The Bay Hotel, Kinghorn, Fife. At the event that was well attended by organisations from public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as a number of businesses, delegates heard that the Scottish population is ageing. This will have a significant impact on labour market and employment practices. Increasing numbers of older workers (defined as those aged 50 plus) are remaining in work as a result of the abolishment of the Default Retirement Age and the rising State Pension Age. By 2020 those in the over-50 age category will comprise almost one third of the working age population. Many would like to work beyond the standard retirement age because of economic and social reasons, although they might wish to work more flexibly. The majority of older workers work for small and medium sized businesses. Employers will increasingly play a crucial role in facilitating the extension of working lives.

The research involved secondary data analysis to describe the age demographic of the Fife workforce, and online survey of Fife employers and interviews with both managers and workers aged 50 plus.

The research found that the working population in Fife is ageing in line with national trends. Despite these trends, the ageing workforce has not been effectively addressed through the development or review of workplace policies and practices. But while age management policies were generally lacking, age friendly practices were employed in some of the participating workplaces.

A key message from the research was that while employers were aware that the ageing population will affect their workforce, they have not considered the suitability of the workplace for older workers.

Only a small minority of those workers interviewed considered themselves to be older workers. Physical limitations however were generally discussed as a barrier to continued participation in the workplace. The research found that in some cases ageing was managed at the level of employees, and below official management policies.

The report includes a number of policy/practice recommendations, and actions arising from them, that need to be considered by stakeholders. A small number of case studies are also presented to outline how Fife workplaces have addressed issues of ageing in their workforce.

Welcoming the report findings, Alan Gow, Workplace Team Adviser, Health Promotion Service said, “This research has provided the evidence that Fife mirrors the national situation with ageing workforces. It also highlights the need for workplaces to be supported through awareness raising activities, making it easier for managers and workers to find ageing worker resources and providing examples of good practice. Moving forward we intend to work with local partner organisations in Fife to address the report recommendations. We would be delighted to assist workplaces interested in finding out more about ageing worker issues and would encourage them to get in contact”.

The Workplace Team can be contacted by email [email protected]or telephone 01592 226494.

The full research report can be found at http://www.healthyfife.net/ageing-workforce-employers-fife/