Intergenerational Workplaces

# Series 2

The Ageing Workforce in Ireland

The ESRI released an excellent report in October 2019, The Ageing Workforce in Ireland. Recognition to its authors, Ivan Privalko, Helen Russell and Bertrand Maître

This report helps us understands the expected shape of our workforce in Ireland and the implications.

Age is not interpreted the same way by everyone however our official response tends towards a ‘one size fits all view’.

The report identifies three different concepts of age.

These include Chronological Age (what is on your birth cert),

BIO Age (how we appear to others, markers include dexterity both mobility and cognitive).

The third concept is where the myths often arise, this is Social Age. Society can often discriminate based on age (perceived or actual). Society often assumes that older means costlier and less capable. We are all prone to unconscious bias.

The ESRI report addresses the many myths that relate to age with research data.

Costlier and less efficient:

Despite older workers routinely displaying the same work capacity as younger workers, employers and managers often see them as less efficient and costlier (Karpinska et al., 2013; Börsch-Supan, 2013), most of these perceptions stem from social ageing biases”.

We get slower with age:

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA, 2016a. It found determined that aspects of cognitive ability such as control and use of language and ability to reason can increase with age. In addition, depression and anxiety are less common among older workers. These findings challenge the idea that chronological ageing is inevitably associated with the deterioration of health and functioning.

Of course, this is a generalisation and age-related changes vary widely across individuals.

Working Smarter:

Another key conclusion of the review is that there is little evidence that changes in cognitive function affect work performance since older workers ‘compensate with an increase in knowledge, experience and judgement’ (ibid., p. 26). Skill and experience can also compensate for losses in physical function (ibid., p. 25 citing Harris and Higgins, 2006). Yeomans (2011) suggests that older workers may work more efficiently due to experience, avoiding the need for working ‘harder’.

Older people and technology don’t mix:

This is a vast generalisation. It has to be remembered that the currently perceived older generation, the Baby Boomers (59 to 74) invented the internet, the PC, the iPhone and many of the innovations we use today.

Older workers take the jobs of younger workers:

There is a GDP benefit of €5 billion annually if we in Ireland were to achieve the labour force participation rates we see in the Scandinavian countries. GDP drives employment. In the UK report published in 2012 they estimate that UK employers will need to fill an estimated 13.5 million job vacancies in the next 10 years but only 7 million young people will leave school and college over this period” … “migration alone will not fill the gap” … “older people are the main untapped source of labour: unlike migrants, they already live here, and their numbers are growing”

#Ageism #DiversityEquityandInclusion #AgeDiversity #FutureWorkforce #FutureWorkplace
#Ageismmyths #ERSI #Performance
Link to Series 1
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