Increasing State Pension Age: black and white…..or grey…?
October 14, 2009 Leave a comment
Conservatives’ plans to raise the state pension age to 66 will make youth unemployment worse leading to a 200,000 rise in unemployment in the first year – many of whom could be young jobseekers. This is the view of Ray Barrell, Director of Macroeconomic Research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research who made his prediction at this week’s Just Ageing Seminar, hosted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). He supported his case by commenting, “If we extend working lives effectively the people we will have to help in the labour market are not those who are in a job and can stay in it for another year, but those at the other end of the labour market who are looking for a job, and the job that would have come up for them is no longer available.”
Stirring stuff when accompanied by alarmist headlines such as Tory plan to raise pension age will add to youth unemployment (Personnel Today)
But surely it’s not that simple. Not only do young, incoming job seekers not automatically replace outgoing retirees due to lack of similar skills and experience, but not all older workers are going to want to keep working or, if they do, to keep working in the same job. Research has shown that later life career changes are becoming more desirable for older individuals with those who want to work increasingly seeking to do so under their own terms. And for many those terms mean working less and working flexibly. The sooner employers start to address these issues, the sooner we should stop hearing these types of argument which effectively are comparing apples with pears – and ultimately just don’t add up.
Indeed, the Personnel Today article does not reflect a balanced view of proceedings at the Just Ageing Seminar. In particular, Sheila Wild, Head of Earnings and Age Inequalities at EHRC, arguing why the Default Retirement Age should be removed, said “ It is not a contest between older and younger workers, but about ensuring everyone who wants to work has the appropriate skills, whatever their age. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has predicted 2 million new jobs between now and 2020 – and most of them will demand higher level skills. In securing jobs coming out of recession, skills levels are likely to be the key factor, not age”.