SPOTLIGHT ON... Supporting older (50+) workers

Published: 2 May 2018

Find out what IHW is doing to champion and support workers aged 50 and over

The UK population is ageing and by 2020 it is estimated that a third of British workers will be over the age of 50.

Photo of older woman working from home on laptop with coffee and notepad

Increased life expectancy will require people to plan their careers and retirement differently, and many will wish or need to remain in paid employment for longer. However, older workers face significant challenges and barriers in the workplace, including:

  • outdated stereotypes, including unhelpful assumptions about ability and aspirations;
  • unconscious bias, with a potential impact on access to career development opportunities, training, mentoring etc;
  • balancing working life with a possible increase in caring responsibilities (children, grandchildren, other dependants, and "sandwich caring" - combining looking after children with caring for older or disabled loved ones);
  • age-related health issues and co-morbidity.

IHW activities and initiatives

An Athena SWAN 50+ Workers Group has recently formed within IHW, co-chaired by HEHTA's Janet Bouttell and Nicola McMeekin, with the aim of encouraging and enabling working in later life. The group is at an early stage, but we expect our focus and activities to include:

  • canvassing older workers' opinions on areas of interest or concern;
  • identifying potential sources of discrimination or disadvantage for 50+ staff;
  • considering ways in which to challenge stereotypes, raise awareness of issues that specifically affect this staff group, and ensure that IHW is a supportive environment for older workers.

If you are interested in joining this group, please email

University of Glasgow links

External links

50+ workers in the news

First published: 2 May 2018