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
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.
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
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
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
The Equality 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 (2010):
Marriage and civil partnership
Pregnancy and maternity
Religion or belief
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.