'Britain needs you' | Are retirees the key to the talent crisis?

Are retirees the key to the talent crisis?

The latest data from Manpower shows that, without a shadow of a doubt, the UK is still experiencing a crippling talent shortage, which shows no signs of slowing.

Spread across seemingly every industry (with some feeling the pinch more than others), this talent shortage is impacting everything from internal talent pipelines, to the cost of hiring, and overall profitability as companies scale back on what is deliverable to customers.

Three in every four (75%) companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring this year, representing a dizzying 16-year high. In fact, this number is over 20% higher than it was in 2019, and more than double its lowest point within the last decade.

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As a result of these ongoing struggles, many companies will be looking for intelligent solutions to their talent woes. Some may be looking to lure back previous quitters with attractive benefits packages, or offering higher pay to key talent in the market to beat competitors.

Could retired workers be the key?

Another so-called solution to the talent crisis, at least according to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, is to persuade those who have previously retired to once again enter the talent market. In a public address earlier in 2023, he addressed retirees, stating ‘Britain needs you’ in a plea to entice them back into work.

Hunt’s key focus was on those who took the COVID pandemic as an opportunity to conclude their careers, perhaps due to being offered severance packages as many businesses ceased trading.

The Chancellor is correct that a significant talent pool was taken out of the market due to COVID. Data from Legal & General found that around 1.3million people retired early in this period, whilst a third of over 50s have reduced the volume of work they take on.

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Yet this doesn’t make the pool of retired talent the silver bullet in the current crisis. Firstly, retirees just don’t want to work anymore. New analysis from the Job Centre suggests that many of those who retired early in recent years will not be tempted by the opportunities that the talent crisis presents. Also, the data concluded that the vast majority simply don’t need the money.

“There are good reasons to think that policy will not reach many of them,” Economists Louise Murphy and Gregory Thwaites recently told the Telegraph. “Older workers who have left the labour market since the start of the pandemic disproportionately come from high-paying, professional jobs.”

“Many of these adults will be living comfortably in their early retirement, and government policy is unlikely to prompt them to ‘un-retire’”.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the UK’s talent market. With younger workers increasingly choosing to drastically shift their careers into side hustles and gig economy roles, and older workers reluctant to remain in the market for any longer than necessary, it appears that new solutions will have to be found for sourcing those much-needed professionals.

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