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Our response to the office for national statistics employment figures for Q1 2013

Posted on 12/06/2013 by Jamie Horton in Category Local authorities
Today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) stats further highlighted the fact that the number of people over 65 in employment is increasing. This is particularly true in the public sector, where our recent Comensura Government Index showed a year on year increase of 25.6% of over 65s (between January - March 2012 vs January - March 2013) in temporary labour within the public sector. 

According to the ONS stats, overall unemployment in the United Kingdom fell by 5,000 in Q1 2013 to 2.51m unemployed. Within the overall statistics, the numbers over 65s in employment has increased and now stands at a record level of 29.7m and permanent employment within the public sector is still declining, by as much as 22,000 in the first quarter of 2013​.

The aging workforce presents a number of challenges for the public sector, including workforce flexibility, productivity, succession planning and development. However, it also presents a number of opportunities, including access to highly skilled and experienced workers who can add real value and play a fundamental role in skills transfer and mentoring.

Amid current economic uncertainty and the decline in permanent employment within the public sector, there is a definite need for Local Authorities to be more flexible with their workforce planning. The difficulties encountered in recruitment due to the current economic climate and employment downturn means that Local Authorities are increasingly demanding skilled and experienced labour on a short term basis and are becoming more reliant on older workers. The number of over 65s in employment means that there is availability in the workforce to meet this demand. However, there is a need for an integrated and coherent strategy, which will help develop the capability and expertise within the public sector. This will ensure effective use and management of older workers and ensure the sector benefits fully from the skills and experience it needs now. Plus, provide a framework to plan and develop younger workers to progress and meet their medium to long-term skill requirements.