Pensions expert Ros Altmann is to be the governments champion for older workers, tasked with making the case for the over-50s within the business community, the Department for Work & Pensions announced today.
Announcing the appointment, pensions minister Steve Webb said: 'I wanted a powerful voice, someone respected amongst the business community, with a track record of speaking up for consumer rights without fear or favour. In Dr Ros Altmann that's exactly what we have.'
Altmann said she was honoured to accept the appointment. 'I am really proud to be taking on this new role and look forward to championing over 50s in the workplace. This fast-growing section of society has so much experience and talent to offer and could play a vital role in future growth.
'Everyone can benefit from ensuring their skills do not go to waste. I also look forward to challenging some of the outdated and downright inaccurate perceptions of later life workers who still have so much to offer.'
The DWP argued that remaining in work for just one year longer brings significant gains to individual households in extra earnings and pension contributions. The department also said there were well-recognised benefits to people's health and wellbeing, as well as to business and the economy as a whole.
Altmann added that she was pleased that the government recognised the importance of encouraging people to stay in the labour market, 'rather than giving up before [the workers] need to.'
'A big part of my role is to work with employers to understand significant benefits of training and recruiting older workers,' she said.
Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre-UK think-tank, said: 'We are living longer than ever before, yet far too many people fall out of the workforce early. Without more older workers active in the workplace there are significant risks for UK plc that we will not have the workforce or skills we need to be a competitive nation. Businesses must wake up to the challenge of extending working lives.
'Helping people work longer requires leadership and it is wonderful to see the announcement of Ros Altmann as the new business champion for older workers. I have no doubt that Ros will do all she can to nudge, encourage and indeed push companies to maximise the potential of older workers.'