Fuller working lives

50+ workforce - retrain, regain, retain

What's the challenge?

There are more people aged 50 and over in employment than ever before, and by 2020 over 50’s will make up almost a third of the working age population. In the North East, we have one of the lowest employment rates in the country for those aged 50 and over – 63.7%. This poses a real challenge.

Our aim to reduce inactivity levels in our 50+ workforce aligns with the government’s ‘Fuller Working Lives’ strategy, which encourages employers to boost their numbers of older workers and to make sure that those in our workforce who are older are supported, whether they want to pursue a new direction or continue in their career. Challenges associated with building an older workforce include issues people face such as redundancy, health problems and caring responsibilities that force them to leave the workforce before retirement age.


We can retain over 50s in the workplace by planning effectively for an ageing workforce . We are working with employers in the region to investigate how we can best retain the skills and experience of older workers in our region’s economy.


Older workers are often overlooked when it comes to workplace training. However, someone aged 50 could easily stay with their employer for another 15 years or more, so there’s a clear case for investing in their development, to the benefit of both the individual and the employer.


When it comes to recruitment, age discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious, can be a barrier for older people who are seeking work. It can also mean that employers are missing out on the skills and experience of an entire section of the workforce.

What are we doing to help?

We’ve created a task and finish group composed of business leaders, local authorities and policy makers to tackle the issues raised in the Fuller Working Lives strategy in the North East. We’ll be supporting employers to make workplaces fit for a changing workforce and we’ll be looking at how we can make sure that people of all ages have the opportunity to develop their skills.

We’ve also created a free Fuller Working Lives toolkit that helps businesses remove the barriers that prevent older people from staying in the workplace. Developed in partnership with the Education Development Trust, the toolkit includes a host of resources including data on the 50+ workforce in the North East, podcasts, case studies and information on support schemes. You can access the toolkit here


What support is there for employers to promote the 50+ workforce?

The government has launched a programme, “Retrain, regain, retain – a pilot to support employers and the older workforce.” The Department for Work and Pensions, in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the National Careers Service (NCS), is offering an opportunity to engage with a range of local businesses to explore how the NCS could provide individuals with better careers and skills advice, and how this might have an impact on the retention, retraining and recruitment workers aged 50 and over.

Benefits of the pilot

Employers that participate will have free access to:

  1. An on-site visit to discuss how the National Careers Service can help them to manage and skill an ageing workforce
  2. An in-depth Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) session via a mix of face to face meetings, telephone and/or digital advice and group sessions, to reflect the diverse nature of the group
  3. Areas covered will include: skills health check, mid-life career review, information about Short courses/units, information about apprenticeships and assistance in helping businesses and older workers to explore flexible working approaches and practices that encourage retention, in-work progression, improved work life balance and improved productivity.

You can find more about this pilot by downloading this leaflet.

How do I find out more about the Fuller Working Lives programme?

You can read about the Department for Works & Pensions’ programme here and our “Unlocking the value of your older workforce” presentation.

Want to find out more about this programme?