Changing Demographics

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Changing demographics as Long Term Issue for Business

Changing demographics as Long Term Issue for Business


Imagine The Office in 2020. David Brent might still be hanging around, displaying slightly slower dance moves, dispensing similar 'jewels' of wisdom. Gareth and others are probably still thinking about moving on. All of them, of course, are over fifteen years older than when we first saw them in 2002. But, looking around the office, there aren't that many younger people working with them these days: there aren't as many around. Some of the older workers are well over sixty-five: David Brent might say they're there because they love their work, but in reality they cannot afford to retire. Most of the new starters are female, more people are working flexibly or part-time, and Slough's Asian population would have continued to grow making the office more ethnically diverse than it used to be. Welcome to the 'new faces' of the labour market. These 'new faces' reflect the dramatic changes taking place in the UK population. Changing demographics have become an obsession for Government and businesses alike. All are struggling to understand and respond to the consequences of farreaching changes within the population, the labour market and society as a whole.

Age is amongst the most significant of these changes. All the anti-ageing creams in the world cannot change the fact that the UK population is ageing, and there are fewer younger workers to support them. With a lower birth rate and a higher life expectancy also comes an extension of both youth and old age. Young people tend to stay on in education longer and to evade responsibilities and children until later in life. Older people are taking advantage of their good health to enjoy a lengthy retirement. Our ageing population will not only affect the way our society is run, with businesses realising the worth of the 'grey pound' and 'grey power' becoming something to be reckoned with (pensioner protests at Council tax rises for example). The ageing population also requires a serious review of the way we fund pensions, of our current age of retirement, and of our strategies for eldercare. Changing households are also impacting upon the labour market and society. More and more families choose, or need, to have two parents working, and there are more and more complex family structures: by 2010 a quarter of all families will be single parent, and one in ten children will be stepchildren. The employment rate of mothers with dependent children has risen from 57 per cent in 1990 to 65 per cent in 2000, significantly closing the gap with fathers and making it unsurprising that an estimated 82 per cent of extra jobs created between 1998 and 2011 will be taken by women. The 'two for one' offer, where for every employee an employer gets, they get one person - usually a wife, sometimes a mother - for free, is over. But someone still needs to look after the children and do the ...
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