Fuller working lives

50+ workforce - retrain, regain, retain

There are more people aged 50 and over in employment than ever before, and by 2020 over 50s 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 are considering how we can we take positive action to support both employers and employees. And, how should we be reskilling and upskilling older workers and helping to retain these valuable and experienced employees in the North East workforce? The government’s Fuller Working Lives initiative focuses on ‘the three R’s’: retain, retrain and recruit.


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.

Retrain, regain, retain – a pilot to support employers and the older workforce

With the three R’s in mind and as the UK workforce ages and fewer younger people enter the labour market, employers will increasingly need to rely on the skills and experience of older workers if they are to remain competitive, increase productivity and growth, and avoid skills shortages in the future. For this reason, 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:

  • An on-site visit to discuss how the National Careers Service can help them to manage and skill an ageing workforce
  • 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
  • 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.

On 20 September 2017, we hosted an event to give more details on the pilot. You can view the presentation from the event here.

What the North East LEP is 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’d really appreciate it if you could complete our short survey to tell us what you are doing to support a 50+ workforce, the elements you are struggling with and the support or guidance you need. This will help us to shape the programmes and activities that businesses in our area need. You can take the survey here.

Find out more

To find out more about this programme, please email Lindsey Joy at [email protected]. You can also read more with the following resources:

Improving Skills News

Tue 10th Oct, 2017


Read more >

Wed 27th Sep, 2017

Sharing lessons from North East career benchmarks pilot with Spain

Read more >

Fri 22nd Sep, 2017

Retrain, regain, retain – how the North East LEP is driving the #fullerworkinglives agenda

Read more >