Focus on age-friendly employment to help bolster West Sussex economy

'Being age-friendly is an important issue for the council as a major employer'

 

Release date: 15 October 2019

The importance of mature workers’ experience and knowledge in helping to push the West Sussex economy forward was highlighted at a conference on Thursday (10 October).

Louise Goldsmith, county council Leader, was keynote speaker at The Manor Royal People Conference in Crawley. In encouraging employers to harness the contribution of mature workers, she outlined some of the age-friendly initiatives already adopted by the county council, including:

  • Encouraging all staff, regardless of age, to continue training and development throughout their careers and actively promote training (including apprenticeships) up to degree level
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • An employee support programme for the wellbeing of all staff
  • A successful trial of mid-life career reviews for management

Louise told the conference: “The council’s West Sussex Plan commits us to doing what we can to ensure the county is a ‘prosperous place’, and one that provides opportunity for all - that includes people of all ages and at all stages of their careers.

“Being age-friendly is an important issue for the council as a major employer, and for businesses and organisations across West Sussex.”

Louise said currently 43.1 per cent of the West Sussex population was aged over 50 (compared with 37.4 per cent nationally). This was predicted to increase by 15 per cent over the next 10 years.

“We know that with the ending of Defined Benefits Pension Schemes, the ‘golden age’ of generous pensions is coming to an end. Many older people now face a difficult time in retirement. 

“With no compulsory retirement age and the changes to pensions, we need to prepare residents for phased retirement and to make sure that they are as prepared as possible for a new type of older age, which includes working for longer. Working for longer shouldn’t be looked at as a negative: there are benefits, including for mental and physical wellbeing and cutting down on social isolation, too.

“At the same time, as businesses, we can capture the experience and ability of mature workers to help meet our skills and workforce needs.”

She told the audience of 120 guests - who included senior business representatives, human resources and personnel managers and business owners - that she hoped the conference would spark new conversations. 

“We welcome the opportunity to work with Manor Royal Business Improvement District on this important issue and look forward to a fruitful partnership on age-friendly employment with local businesses.”

The county council has business information and advice available online.

Pictured: Patrick Thompson, Senior Programme Manager for Fulfilling Work for the Centre for Ageing Better, with Louise Goldsmith at the conference

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