In addition, the numbers also showed that a record 8.3m people aged 50 to 64 were working in 2015.
This is fantastic news for the economy as UK businesses will only benefit from having older workers on the payroll. It is also, perhaps, quite pertinent – depending on what happens with immigration as a result of Brexit and the potential impact on the freedom of movement for workers in the EU – that we have a ready-made pool of people businesses can call upon.
The contribution older workers make to firms is invaluable. Their experience is second-to-none as is their attitude and aptitude for the work. I completely agree with former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann when she said last week that older workers have been written off for so long and that people in their 50s, 60s or even 70s are not old at all.
She could, in fact, have been talking about my workforce at Pimlico Plumbers. We’ve never written off older workers. More than ten per cent of my employees are in the over 50s bracket. Across a range of departments, whether it’s out on the tools or working at our London HQ, I am determined to ensure we have a group of talented and capable older workers in the business.
And, of course, among them we have a few that truly prove that age is just a number. My 75-year-old personal assistant Mario, for example, is fresh off running an ultra-marathon across the Sahara Desert and applies the same level of stamina and commitment managing my comings and goings on a daily basis.
Then there’s my chauffeur Eric who, at 82, handles my Bentley Mulsanne like it’s a Fiat 500 negotiating the streets of the capital, including quite a few handy short cuts, with the kind of road knowledge that would make a London Cabbie proud.
The experience older workers bring to the table is not just beneficial to the current operations of a business. They can also help shape the future of a firm by working alongside younger colleagues.
They say the best teams, be they in business or in sport, are made up of the right blend of youth and experience. Older workers are ready-made mentors and they can share the kind of knowledge and experience with young people that colleges and training providers could only dream of being able to teach. This is why we always put our apprentices in partnerships with our most experienced and talented engineers. Alongside their formal training and qualifications this is the best kind of education any apprentice could wish for.
These new figures back up what we’ve known at Pimlico Plumbers for some time and prove that the over 50s aren’t slowing down.
I’d encourage even more businesses to create opportunities for older workers. The benefits will be obvious. Employers should heed the words of Albert Einstein who once said: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” I’m no physicist, but that’s pure and simple common sense that every business can apply to their recruitment activities.
Elsewhere, while certain politicians, football managers and TV motoring show presenters have found themselves on unexpected and somewhat enforced holidays, UK entrepreneurs still seem to be wrestling over the decision to take a break this year.
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