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Number of older workers in retail growing

New report reveals changing demographic that could transform the face of retail, with the number of over 50s employed within the sector set to grow by 22% in 10 years.

Although 16-24 year old age group still dominates the retail profile - making up almost a third of all employees in the sector - a report by Skillsmart Retail's has highlighted a decline in employees of this age. However, the report's findings did reveal a growth in the number of older members of staff working in retail, compared with eight years ago - especially in the 55-64 and 65-74 age groups.

Last year workers aged over 55 accounted for one in seven of the workforce, with 50,000 more people from that age group working in retail than in 2001.

The potential market for retailers to employ from within the 50-plus age group is nearly three times greater than the 16-24 age group, says Skillsmart Retail. Yet the sector currently only draws 3% of this age group.

With the British public living longer and the compulsory retirement age of 65 soon to be phased out, Skillsmart Retail now predicts a 22% increase in the number of over 50s working in retail in the next 10 years.

Over 50s however, recorded an average time of five to 10 years with a retail employer. With an estimated one million people in the 50-plus age group who are either unemployed or inactive but willing to return to work, there are plenty of potential employees out there.

Despite this, Skillsmart Retail does warn of a need for training. A recent employer survey highlighted that the only problem encountered when employing older workers in shopfloor retail positions was the lack of computer and IT literacy. An easy way to tackle this, it says, is with structured on-the-job training.

In November last year, B&Q honoured its oldest employee. Syndey Prior, aged 95, has been with the company for 19 years. The DIY giant said that it is proud of the diversity within its workforce, adding that more than a quarter (28%) of its store employees are aged over 50.

Source :

16 August 2010
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