Recruitment and retention of older workers

Information and practical guidance for employers in being more age-inclusive towards older workers in recruitment processes and employment offers.

28 October 2022

Experts suggest that recruiters should make the most of the skills and experience gained by older workers (generally regarded as those aged 50 and over) throughout their years in the workforce.

Fewer older people in work is driving a growth in economic inactivity in the UK. Two thirds of the overall rise in economic inactivity has been among those aged 50 and over according to analysis published by the Institute of Employment Studies, which looks at Office for National Statistics Vacancy Survey findings and Labour Force Survey data.

However, recent shifts in the labour market indicate that more older workers are re-entering the workforce, mainly because of rising living costs. Very few of those in their 50s considered themselves to be retiring and most are living on pensions or savings and are not in receipt of benefits. There is also an indication that in some sectors there are now more available job opportunities offering better pay which older workers are taking advantage of. 

Despite the slight increase, research shows that 36 per cent of 50-69 year-olds feel at a disadvantage applying for jobs due to their age. Clearly, there is a lot more employers could do to make work more attractive and accessible for over 50s. Last year the Centre for Ageing Better published a Good Recruitment for Older Workers (GROW) guide, which is designed to help organisations recognise the negative role that age-related discrimination plays, provide practical suggestions for employers to become more age-inclusive, adopt fairer recruitment processes and also support staff to work longer in the NHS. In turn, increasing participation across the older demographic will help to manage economic recovery and retain the skills and knowledge in the sector that would otherwise be lost.

Our Labour Market Trends resource provides more context to the current trends in workforce data.


NHS employers has also published a number of other resources which can assist in making recruitment processes more age-inclusive:

Additionally there are some useful external resources relating to the recruitment of older workers:


Institute for Employment Studies (IES), Labour Market Statistics - Briefing September 2022,