By 2050, the number of adults over the age of 65 is expected to double, reaching a staggering 1.6 billion. This shifting demographic presents not only challenges but a wealth of opportunities — for economies and individuals alike.

Our perceptions of ageing and retirement are changing, with many older workers broadening their horizons as they move through their 50s and 60s, taking steps to relaunch careers and pursue new projects and roles in lieu of retirement.

In a recent interview, Homeserve CEO, Richard Harpin, made a strong case for launching businesses later in life, saying that as a mentor and investor he’d encountered many people in middle age “with a mortgage, family and wealth of experience, who worry that time and circumstance are against them”. 

“My response is always the same: ‘It’s never too late to be an entrepreneur’.”

These ‘later starters’ have resilience, determination and understand what makes a team tick, he says. “They’ve made mistakes and learned from them. They’re empathetic, see opportunities in different ways and have a strong network of contacts… The best new entrepreneurs are often those who’ve spent decades watching, learning, doing and dreaming. It’s never too late.”

Within organisations, the ageing workforce is prompting a cultural shift; creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment. Companies are recognising the value of their older employees, who often have lower stress levels on the job and greater emotional stability than their younger co-workers.

Continuing employment and career development in later life brings wide-ranging benefits to the economy, society and for individual health. Mental stimulation and social connections reduce the risk of isolation and depression that can often come with retirement, while an older workforce contributes to economic stability. As people extend their working life, they grow their pension pots, increasing their financial security, which in turn boosts their spending, and stimulates the economy.

However, there are significant challenges when it comes to harnessing the potential of an ageing workforce — such as ill health, the tendency for older women to bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities, and gendered ageism in the workplace.

Ill health in later life

Approximately 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia — a number that’s predicted to nearly triple by 2050. Chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and mental health issues are also on the rise and prevalent among older adults, which can severely impact their ability to work.

To mitigate these challenges, workplace accommodations, such as flexible hours, remote working, and ergonomic adjustments, are key to helping older workers manage their health conditions while remaining productive.

The promotion of health and wellness programs within the workplace can improve overall health outcomes, and reduce the incidence of chronic conditions, helping older workers stay relevant in the evolving job market, and extending their employability.

EXPLORE: Creating a menopause-friendly workplace

This partner film is paid for and controlled by Crawford and Company. It is produced by the ITN Business commercial team and is not created by ITN news staff journalists.

Supporting midlife women in relaunching careers

Midlife women are a huge asset to the workforce, with their extensive knowledge, wisdom and experience — yet often feel compelled to step away from their jobs at a prime point in their careers, when they’re embarking on mid to senior leadership level. Reasons can range from growing family commitments and caring duties, to fatigue, burnout, and the physical symptoms associated with women’s health issues, such as menopause.

Data from the Harvard Business Review indicates that women score higher than men in most leadership skills, including taking initiative, resilience, and driving results.

A number of organisations are working to support women in mid-life with career development through coaching, mentorship, community, and upskilling courses that help build confidence.  

Jacquie Duckworth is the co-founder of Visible Inc. an organisation that helps midlife women get back into the media industry. In 2021, Jacquie and her business partner Jane launched ‘Women Returners’; a consultancy, coaching, and networking initiative, which supports women in returning to the workforce after a career break.

Their free ‘Visible Start program offers workshops, coaching, CV advice and interview training, and access to a community platform as part of a collaboration with WPP and Brixton Finishing School. The scheme provides job opportunities at the end of the training within WPP agencies.

“Over 30 women have got jobs at WPP as a result of the [Visible Start programme], and many more have got jobs elsewhere,” she says, “but ultimately we’re equipping them with the necessary tools to go out to market across any industry sector.”

Through their ‘Visible Society’ platform, they’ve created a safe space for the 1200 mid-life women they have signed up to their program to connect and share experiences.

“It’s such an enhancement to their lives; it’s humbling to say the least, but it’s given them strength and purpose.

“Midlife women have not earned enough, or saved enough. They’ve got one-fifth of the pension pots of their male counterparts, and are being exited from industry at the age of 45… yet they will live to be 100+. So, will become a burden on society,” Jacquie says. “It’s proven that businesses that have midlife women on their executive boards are more successful than those without women. Businesses need us.”

According to research from McKinsey, over the past two years, women have been more successful than men in supporting people in their teams, improving DEI policies and being active allies to females of colour.

Evidence shows that midlife women bring experience, leadership, diversity, commitment, adaptability, and significant economic contributions. Employers who recognise and leverage these strengths can benefit from a more robust, dynamic, and productive workforce.

Explore our upcoming programme: Redefining Later Living 

As stereotypes and stigma around old age are increasingly becoming out of date, ‘Redefining Later Living’ will help to reinforce positivity around ageing well and embracing later life. Featuring contributions from industry thought leaders including Alzheimer’s Society, British Menopause Society and u3a.

There are commercial opportunities for leading organisations to be featured in the programme and spearhead their own news item. If your organisation wants to share what you stand for and be part of this important conversation about ageing, please contact ITN Business’ Programming Director, Tamsin Luck.

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