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Employers Urged To Train Older Workers

28th June 2006

Food and drink manufacturers in Scotland are to be given advice and practical examples to promote the benefits of investing more in training their older workers.

Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, has commissioned research to find out what practices leading employers already have in place to develop the skills of older workers, and will gather case studies that can be shared with other employers throughout the sector.

"Food and drink manufacturing is characterised by an aging workforce," explained Ian Land, Improve's operations manager for Scotland. "It's estimated that almost 14,000 employees in food and drink manufacturing in Scotland are aged between 45 and 64, but we believe that many employers overlook the opportunity to continue developing the skills of this group.

"Older workers are generally highly experienced and often already highly skilled, but in many cases they could make an even more valuable contribution to productivity if they had the chance to learn new skills."

The results of the study are expected by August, and will also be used to help employers understand how best to comply with new EU legislation on age discrimination, which comes into force in October. The new law will give employees the right to stay on at work past the age of 65, and require that employees of all ages have equal opportunities to continue learning, and developing their skills.

Improve is one of 25 sector skills councils established by the government to take the lead in driving up skills in the workplace in order to promote higher productivity and stronger competitiveness for UK businesses in the global market.

Funded primarily by the government, sector skills councils are also supported by employers in their sectors, whose needs they represent when stimulating change among the providers of education and skills. Sector skills councils work closely with employers to promote greater commitment to improving skills in their workforces, and with schools, colleges, universities, and private training organisations to improve
the provision of basic skills training and to make vocational and occupational training more relevant to the modern commercial climate.