Engineering businesses are re-designing the future of work in order to cope with the ageing population, a survey of 208 engineering businesses commissioned by The Royal Academy of Engineering shows today. According to the Office for National Statistics, by 2020 there will be more people aged over 40 than below 40.

Dr Richard Wilson, Director of Communications at The Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

"An ageing workforce creates challenges and opportunities for businesses. In terms of challenges, the ageing of the UK workforcecould exacerbate skill shortages, denude firms of knowledgeable workers andcreate challenges for employers in terms of maintaining the motivation of their employees.”

The Academy’s survey of engineering businesses shows that:

  • 44% experienced recruitment difficulties over the last year;
  • 49% believed their workforce would face a shortage of young people over the next decade; and,
  • 71% are concerned about the loss of skilled workers as employees retire.

Dr Wilson added:

“Engineering businesses are responding to these challengesby re-designing the future of work in a variety of ways: supporting staff to work beyond the age of 65,retraining older workers, enabling retirees to return to work and by creating reserves of retired workers whocan be called upon in response to market demands."

Of the engineering businesses surveyed by the Academy:

  • 91% favour their employees working beyond the age of 65
  • 58% offered re-training to their older workers;
  • 36% had increased the pay of older workers to encourage them to stay in employment;
  • 46% enabled retirees to return to work; and
  • 30% had created a reserve of retired workers who can be called upon to work on discrete projects as and when required.

Dr Wilson concluded:

“A crucial challenge for businesses is to preserve their knowledge and capabilities as employees retire. The ageing of the workforce is encouraging many engineering businesses to re-design the nature of work to achieve this objective. In the process, engineering employers are re-designing the future of work, to the benefit of both older workers and their businesses.”

Download the survey findings (79.68 KB)

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Richard Wilson at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 (0) 20 7766 0620