Table of Contents

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.

Chapter 36: Lifelong learning and employers: reskilling older workers

John Field and Roy Canning

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


In the context of population ageing, adult upskilling and reskilling assume considerable significance. Predicting future population changes is comparatively straightforward, and the United Nations Population Division estimates that, in developed nations, the proportion of the population that is of working age will fall from 61 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent in 2050. Meanwhile, with growing longevity, the old-age dependency ratio in these nations will grow from to 12 to 48 per hundred of the working-age population, and in the less developed nations from 9 to 23 (United Nations 2011, 6, 448–9). Governments in virtually all nations expect increasing pressures on the working population as well as on a range of services as a result. One option is to attract skilled migrants, though this is often politically controversial, and in any case migrants also grow older over time. For many governments, increasing the employment rates of older workers, and improving their productivity, will become more pressing. For many enterprises, ensuring the adaptability and employability of their existing workforce will become as important as recruiting and inducting young workers entering the labour market for the first time. Against this background, training and development may seem obvious solutions. Apart from any other consideration, governments and enterprises more generally tend to view continuing training and development positively, as ways of improving competitiveness and employability.

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