Policy Report

Avoiding the demographic crunch: labour supply and the ageing workforce

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Avoiding the demographic crunch: labour supply and the ageing workforce

Published June 2015

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Demographic change will have a profound effect on the UK labour market over the next two decades and beyond. Over 30% of people in employment in the UK are over the age of 50, and there are unlikely to be enough younger people entering the labour market to replace this group when they leave the workforce, taking their skills and experience with them. Employers need to recognise the potential issues they face, such as skills shortages, productivity challenges, labour shortfalls and an inability to meet customer service and production targets. 

The aim of this study, a collaboration between the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and the CIPD, is to understand the challenges for different industries of an ageing workforce and how to mitigate the risks. Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are analysed to explore the age profile of different industries and the extent to which industries are currently experiencing a drop-off in employment after certain ages. The report makes recommendations for what employers need to do to adapt to demographic change and ensure a stable workforce for the future. 

‘It is not just industries with older workforces that will be affected by population change. Those that have been used to relatively young workforces may face a particularly difficult challenge in adapting to an ageing workforce as well.’ 

Content of the report 

  • Executive summary 
  • Introduction 
  • 1 Trends for the UK labour market 
  • 2 Assessing the scale of the challenge for different industries posed by ageing 
  • 3 Adapting to an ageing and more age-diverse workforce 
  • Conclusion 
  • Endnotes