Upskilling and lifelong learning will benefit older workers in Ireland
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Upskilling and lifelong learning will benefit older workers in Ireland

14 Aug 2019323 Views

A new report from Solas recommends implementing better measures for workers over 50 to get more out of their careers.

The ongoing digital revolution is transforming the knowledge and tools required for long and healthy careers. Employees of today are challenged with matching the fast pace of technological change, and a new report from Solas shows that older workers can be particularly affected by this.

According to the report, the number of people aged 50 years or over in Ireland has increased by 330,000 since 2008. Solas highlighted the importance of providing these individuals, which it describes as ‘older workers’, with opportunities to upskill.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Joan McNaboe, manager of the Solas skills and labour market research unit, said: “This report focuses primarily on those in employment aged 50 to 59 across a number of areas. The overall workforce participation rate for the 50 to 59-year-old cohort has increased by almost 5pc – from 70.9pc in 2008 to 75.3pc in 2018 – driven by an increased number of females in employment.

“We believe that the provision of supports for this group will facilitate an increase in the participation rate of older workers in future years.”

Education levels of older workers

Older workers’ level of education was another focus of the research, which reported that of the 425,000 persons aged 50 to 59 in employment, 41pc had an upper secondary education. Of those in employment with a third-level qualification, two-thirds had gained their qualification before 2000.

Nikki Gallagher, director of communications and secretariat with Solas, said: “These results show that engaging in lifelong learning is key – for workers of all ages. The further education and training system has a suite of options [that] can facilitate the reskilling and upskilling of older workers.  This can allow people to remain in the workplace for as long as they want to, creating an age-friendly workplace environment.

“Technological change is going to have an impact on those employed in certain sectors in the coming years, namely the elementary, administrative, sales and operative roles. Just over one-third of the population aged 50 to 59 are employed in these occupations, and measures must be put in place to ensure that workers are given opportunities to reskill.”

The report also looked into those aged 60 and older. Of this age group, 22pc of the population were working in 2018, with agriculture, health, and wholesale and retail the top sectors of employment. A summary of the research can be found here.

By Lisa Ardill

Lisa joined the team as senior Careers reporter in July 2019 with previous experience in science communication and media. With a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, she is also semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos.

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