Senior citizen

The UK workforce is on the brink of a mass exodus of senior staff, as baby boomers near retirement and feel under pressure to leave their jobs, according to new research from global recruiter Randstad.

A recent report by pensions minister Ros Altmann shows that by 2022 the number of people in the workforce aged 50 to state pension age will have risen by 3.7 million to 13.8 million and the number aged 16-49 will have reduced by 700,000.

If not planned for, the exodus of this generation will cause a severe second skills shortage as these older, and often more senior, workers leave the workforce en masse, Randstad said.

Despite this looming threat, Randstad’s research shows there remains a strong societal pressure for older workers to leave the workforce at state pension age. In a poll of 2,001 British adults, three quarters of respondents report feeling this pressure, with 32% of respondents saying the pressure is ‘significant’. Only one in six workers (17%) feel there is no pressure.

As a result of this tension, more than a third of workers (35%) say they plan to retire early. Feeling “like they won’t be wanted in the workforce when older” is the major driver of these early-retirement plans, with 28% of respondents answering they will retire early as a result. A small but significant proportion of workers (7%) plan to retire early because they are worried about age discrimination.

Mark Bull, CEO of Randstad UK, said: “The baby-boomers are nearing retirement, and we could have a huge skills shortage on our hands if these senior, established staff exit the workforce en masse. This additional squeeze on skills could be catastrophic – especially considering the current war for talent. Given the current skills gap, finding the right people for the right jobs is becoming increasingly difficult. Now more than ever employers should hold onto their high performers as tightly as they can, as it can take a long time to fill the gap left by senior staff when they leave.”