£2m National Lottery funding for older workers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

A new initiative aimed at supporting people aged 50+ in Scotland to remain or return to work has today received a £2.2 million boost from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The funding is for the five-year Age At Work project which will work across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to raise awareness of an ageing workforce and support businesses to be more age inclusive. 

By supporting older people to remain in or return to work, the project will help older workers to have enough income, develop new skills and have a fuller working life. Being part of the workforce will also help older people to stay connected to their community and reduce loneliness and isolation.

The Age At Work project will be jointly led by Age NI and Business in the Community (BITC) NI in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru, BITC Scotland and BITC Cymru.

Welcoming the funding in Scotland, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said:

“Older people make an incredibly valuable contribution to the workplace which can all too often be overlooked. With an ageing population, Scotland really must get to grips how best to support older workers and encourage employers to create age inclusive workplaces.

“Age Scotland will be working with 29 medium and large Scottish organisations over the next five years to help them become more age inclusive. We will do this by providing HR consultation support and working through our Age Inclusive Matrix with them to identify areas for improvement and develop a path to achieving it. This will include how to make the most of intergenerational teams, a positive work environment, management best practice, a commitment to lifelong learning and employee well-being.

“Embracing and supporting your older workforce is great for business, the economy and society.”

Alan Thornburrow, Director of BITC Scotland, added:

“Scotland’s ageing population is not new, but it is set to accelerate from 2021, and at a faster rate than the rest of the UK – a clear and significant challenge for business and society. 

“The drop-off in employment rates before state pension age is much too high:  while 72.4% of Scotland’s 50-64 year olds are in employment compared to an overall average of 75.4%, this drops to just 10.7% of those aged 65 and above. 

“We devalue skills and experience they have amassed over a lifetime at our peril. Increasing the economic activity of those over 50 through Age At Work presents significant benefit to Scotland, and we’d like to thank the National Lottery Community Fund for its support for this essential work.” 

Announcing the £2,244,942 award, The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Chair Maureen McGinn, said:

“We’re delighted to be funding the Age At Work initiative, which focuses on the strengths older people bring to the workforce. Thanks to National Lottery players, this multi-million pound UK-wide initiative will engage older people and employers to help better understand and overcome some of the barriers to finding or staying in work.  These include the demands of informal caring; health issues and lack of flexible working options. Overall, this will raise awareness and unlock the potential of a skilled and relatively untapped pool of potential employees in Scotland.”