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Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith today pledged government ...
Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith today pledged government

action to increase the opportunities for older people in the labour

market, as a key aspect of 'Opportunity for All'.

Speaking to the Oxford Institute of Ageing conference at the

University of Oxford, Mr Smith said: 'I firmly believe that the

challenge for this decade is to extend more opportunities for older

people in the workforce - much as youth unemployment was the

challenge for the last. We need to tackle the barriers which hold

back older workers who would like to stay in the workforce.

'It's good for individuals, it's good for the economy and it's good

for society.

'The bald facts of demographics are compelling - as we are living

longer, and we all want a good standard of living in retirement, we

either have to save more, or work longer, or a mixture of both -

there is a remorseless arithmetic at work.

'We need to change our attitudes, thinking and approach to older

people in the workforce. We should be looking to open doors, not

close them.'

Mr Smith highlighted government actions in helping older workers back

into work:

- The number of people aged 50 or over in work has increased by

900,000 since 1997

- The success of New Deal 50 plus and New Deal for Disabled People in

providing tailored help to support older workers back into work

- Work through the Age Positive campaign to highlight benefits of an

age diverse workforce

Mr Smith emphasised his view that more needs to be done to help

people downshift into retirement and end the cliff edge between work

and retirement. He said these issues would be addressed in the

forthcoming green paper on pensions due out this autumn.

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