Measures needed to protect older workers from technological changes in workplace

Report shows number of workers aged 50 and over has increased 330,000 in 10 years

Nikki Gallagher, director of communications for Solas, warned that technological change will have an impact on those employed in certain sectors in the coming years. Photograph: solas.ie

Nikki Gallagher, director of communications for Solas, warned that technological change will have an impact on those employed in certain sectors in the coming years. Photograph: solas.ie

 

Measures must be taken to protect older workers from the threat of technological changes in the workplace, according to Solas, the further education and training authority.

A report on “older” workers, to be published on Wednesday, shows the number of those resident in Ireland aged 50 and over has increased by 330,000 in the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, the labour force participation rate of those aged in their 50s has increased by about 5 per cent to just over 75 per cent, the main reason being the growth rate in female workers.

Commenting on the study, which is part of a new series of quarterly bulletins due to be released by Solas, Nikki Gallagher, director of communications warned that technological change will have an impact on those employed in certain sectors in the coming years.

She pointed in particular to administrative, sales, operative roles and to elementary occupations, which include jobs such as cleaners, catering assistants and security staff.

Fastest changing sectors

There were 146,300 people aged 50 to 59 employed in these types of occupation, representing just over one third of the age group. The report also notes there are 50,000 employed in industry which is among the fastest changing sectors.

“Just over one-third of the population aged 50 to 59 are employed in these occupations, and measures must be put in place to ensure that workers are given opportunities to re-skill,” Ms Gallagher said.

Of those in the age group, jobs in the health sector accounted for the largest number of persons at just under 62,000.

This was followed by industry (51,300), wholesale and retail (48,400) and education (44,500). Information and Communications Technology (ICT) had the lowest number of persons employed at 13,000.

In terms of educational attainment, 45 per cent (84,300) of women in employment had a third level qualification compared to 37 per cent (88,900) of men. For further education and training qualifications, it was 16 per cent for both.

High skilled occupations such as managers and professionals made up over 40 per cent (171,000) of those employed in the 50 to 59 age group.