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22 October 2018
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Older workers need digital training © iStock

8 December 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Employers must do more to train and upskill older workers to prepare them for the digital economy, says a survey and report from Business in the Community (BITC).

The ageing population is leading to an older talent pool, but the study reveals that those over 50 are not receiving the training they need to succeed in the digital era as technology transforms jobs – and this raises concerns about future skills shortages in the UK workforce.


The BITC’s survey of nearly 2,000 workers – 1,000 of whom were over 50 – has found that over-50s are not being trained in skills needed for the digital economy.


Older workers are also less likely to feel informed about the impact of automation and technology on their jobs.


It reveals that 62 per cent of workers in their 50s had not received training in computer skills, and women and manual workers were less likely than younger employees to have received training in other crucial skills such as project management, customer service and digital communications.


Other findings in The Missing Link: An Ageing Workforce in the Digital Era include: 

  • • Only 25 per cent of employees aged 50-59 and 22 per cent of those aged 60-69 felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities, compared with 44 per cent of 18-39 year-olds and 32 per cent of those aged 40-49.
  • • Older workers were also more likely to feel that their employer did not inform them about how technology and automation would impact their job compared to younger employees.  

The report’s recommendations include creating a company culture of lifelong learning, developing targeted training and re-skilling support for specific groups of older workers, and clearly communicating the effects of automation and technology.

Jenny Lincoln, BITC age research and policy manager, said: “Too few older workers are getting the training and information they need to prepare for increased automation and technology in the world of work. With a rising retirement age, and fewer young people entering the workforce, it’s vital that employers invest in training older workers so that they are equipped with both the skills and confidence to make the most of the digital age. By supporting older workers to be ‘digital adopters’ employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages." 


The report is supported by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Nupur Malik, HR boss at TCS, said: “We believe that training and development is an ongoing process and support all our employees to gain the skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age.


“Taking action will mean more businesses can thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment and support employees to stay in good work for longer.”