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Undoubtably there will be many forces that will impact the economy and therefore business over

the coming years.

One of the largest effects will be the impact of our ageing population.

However, the SME business community has not yet truly fully grasped the unprecedented ways that

ageing will change the employment rules of our businesses.

There has been much talk about the Baby Boomer Generation and the impact of The Silver Tsunami

but generally the news coverage has been negative and focuses on the predicted funding crisis of providing health and care to the elderly.

Initially, when we look at the statistics, they are potentially frightening.

In the UK by next year, 2020, people aged over 50 will comprise almost a third of the working age population.
Globally, by 2050 the number of people 60 and over is projected to more than double.

Yes, it’s a global trend not just a local problem.

However, is the gloomy outlook based on facts or opinions. Unfortunately, economists use the

dependency ratio to predict the trend. This is the ratio between the number of people typically not

working (under 15 and over 65 years old) in the population divided by the number of working age


Today’s older adults are generally healthier than past generations and are changing the nature of

their retirement as they continue to learn, work and contribute. In the workplace their talents can

complement younger workers.

The gloomy statistical trend takes no account of the desire for the older generation to have an active lifestyle and stay productive and continue to work. This desire will be magnified as pension

underfunding forces the retirement age ever upward.

As owners of small business, we must recognise and be prepared for the transformation in the

workforce. Soon your workforce could cover five generations from teenagers to 80 plus.

Are you and your business ready to adapt to this massive demographic transformation?The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their age and

there is no upper limit to unfair dismissal and redundancy.

However, whatever the age of the employee, employers can discuss their future aims and

aspirations which can help identify their training and development needs.

The employment market is currently in transition from the ‘old job for life’ to career variety and

flexibility. This trend is due to continue and future changes in computing and AI will undoubtedly

bring further challenges in the future.

As business owners we must be ever adaptable and be aware of what is happening in the

environment around us.

Our ageing workforce is a trend that will impact us all.

It cannot be ignored.

It is time for the discussion to become more vocal.

Is it as a threat or an opportunity?

The choice is ours.

Let us know what you think and the plans you have in place in the comments below.

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