Scotland's population is ageing and the proportion of older
people in the workforce is increasing. The 2011 census figures show
that there are now more people aged 65 and over than under 15 in
Scotland, the first time that a census has recorded this.
With people living longer and many having to supplement their
retirement income through working beyond the state pension age, the
UK Government has announced that the state pension age will be
increased to 67 by 2028. In view of the above, older people are
playing an increasingly important role in Scotland's economy but
with Annual Population Survey data showing that the 50-64 year old
employment rate is 63%, many older people face barriers in finding
and retaining employment.
The barriers faced by older people include:
- Employer discrimination (often termed as ageism).
- Obsolete skills (often in relation to computing/IT
- Competition from younger workers.
- Lower level formal qualifications than younger people. Annual
Population Survey data for 2012 shows that in Scotland 47% of 25 to
49 year olds were qualified to N/SVQ level 4 or higher; amongst
50-64 year olds the proportion was 33%.
- Older people are less likely to engage with employment services
due to a lack of awareness, distrust of what is on offer, or a
sense of pride and self sufficiency.
- Poverty and residence in deprived areas, which tend to affect
those who have had employment gaps due to child rearing or
unemployment more. Widowed or divorced women can therefore be at a
particular risk of poverty.
- Health problems.
Policies and Interventions
The Scottish Government is working to enable older people to
live healthy, active and independent lives. It works with the UK
Government in tackling pensioner poverty. Providing security and
dignity for older people is central to the Scottish Government's
social justice agenda. It wants older people to have the services
they need, and to be involved in the planning of those services. A
long term strategy, All
Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population,
was published in March 2007. The strategy outlines the
opportunities and choices available to people as they get older and
addresses the issues of an ageing population.
Interventions to help older people find and retain employment when
they need it can include the following:
- Providing opportunities for older people to update their
- Early intervention to prevent poverty and health problems in
- Raising awareness of and tackling age discrimination.
- Additionally, having flexibility (e.g. of hours and location)
within a job can help older people to stay in work, as it allows
them to fit in other things in their lives such as caring
responsibilities and health issues, new hobbies, new skills being
learnt and travel plans.
The Equality Act
Act (2010) is the main piece of legislation that addresses
discrimination and inequality in the UK. It brought together nine
separate pieces of legislation into one. The majority of the
provisions came into force on 1 October 2010. The following are the
characteristics which are protected under the Equality Act
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
The law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination
relating to any of these characteristics and individuals who feel
they have been discriminated against on any of the above grounds
can bring an action in court against the perpetrator. The law also
prohibits victimisation of persons who have brought action against
a perpetrator or given evidence in connection with proceedings
under the Act.
The Act prohibits discrimination across a broad range of areas
including employment, the provision of goods and services to the
public and the exercise of public functions. In addition a Public
Sector Equality Duty came into force in April 2011. It assigned
public bodies (and others discharging public functions, such as
third sector organisations) the following duties:
- Eliminating unlawful discrimination.
- Advancing equality of opportunity.
- Fostering good relations.
Specific duties within the Act require fit-for-purpose equality
monitoring to be undertaken, at both national and local levels. As
a result, a number of listed public authorities in Scotland are now
required to publish a set of equality outcomes and to report on
progress every two years. The specific duties also require the
listed public authorities to undertake Equality Impact Assessment
of new or revised policies and practices and to consider relevant
evidence when making their assessments.