The following text is an extract of the keynote address delivered by Christina McElvie MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities, The Scottish Government, at EngAGE – The Festival of Ageing Conference, organised by GenAnalytics and The Herald on 23 May, 2019 at Glasgow Caledonian University in association with NTT Data UK.
“Population ageing is a fact and we know it is happening at a faster rate than in the rest of the UK.
But we firstly need to recognise that ageing is something to be celebrated.
And that means we have to change the way we think about ageing.
Life does not stop when you hit 50.
Life is not an inevitable, miserable decline.
So I’d like to talk about the recently published “A Fairer Scotland for Older People – A Framework for Action”.
We were told that the main priorities that people had as they got older were: remaining a valued part of the community, fair access to public services including health and social care, housing and transport, arts and culture, as well as financial security.
Recognising that a diverse workforce demands diverse job opportunities. And ensuring the no-one misses out. This, couple with the effect of successive raises in the state pension age has an impact.
It means that recruiting and retaining older workers in the labour market and work place for longer, is increasingly important to Scotland’s economic growth.
Offering flexible working or facilitated phased retirement is an important inclusive employment practice. And there is good reason to do it.
Flexible and agile working policies have been found to raise loyalty, motivation and business productivity as workers experience an improved work-life balance.
But how will we keep people working as they age?
We have our £750,000 Workplace Equality Fund. This is funding for employers and their business partners. And that fund has been expanded for 2019 which will enable them to address the needs of older workers, including those who provide care support, women transitioning through the menopause, and efforts to support employers to tackle social isolation and loneliness.
Women face specific barriers to entering, re-entering and progressing within the workplace. And the gender pay gap widens with age.
So we have a range of initiatives to help women stay in work . These strategies include: A Fairer Scotland for Women, the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan and the Women Returners Programme.
So it is clear that the Scottish Government is undertaking a number of positive initiatives to support older workers and workers of pensionable age.
We must be considerate of a wider inter-generational workforce, and we must bring forward more flexible measures to better suit older workers.
And we must remind ourselves that our people, are every organisations biggest assets.
Ageing is everyone’s business.”