The global population is aging, and the proportion of older people is increasing in almost every country in the world. As people live longer, they work longer, some by choice, others due to the need to make the ends meet financially. The retirement age continues to increase, and there is a growing population of 55-65 and older workers facing new challenges and making new choices during the work-retirement transition.
Operating as a Social Innovation Lab, we use our three-step approach of Scan – Build – Scale underpinned by a unique methodology blending research, design-thinking, and systems-thinking to design and co-create solutions that will scale.
The project is currently in the Scan phase.
We start each topic with the Scan phase, applying our Social Radar methodology to determine who within “Mature Workers” was most impacted by difficulties in the workforce. Using our proprietary methodology to analyse a combination of public data, Adecco Group data, and social media data scanning, we identified several key findings:
Age discrimination: Ageism is one of the most common barriers for employability of mature workers, however, age discrimination appears to be more common in some sectors than others. For example, in the healthcare sector, an older age is perceived positively as it is associated with more experience, knowledge and skills, trust and empathy. However, in the case of IT sector, perceptions captured by ChatGPT show that the perceived optimal age bracket for the IT-related occupations is significantly lower than for the rest of sectors.
Age inequality: Rising number of workers continue working after reaching the statutory retirement age, both high-skilled and low-skilled (if it does not involve manual labour). Not only labor-of-love-type jobs such as clergy or writers/authors and/or those that are not physically demanding are common in longer working occupations, jobs such as taxi drivers and chauffeurs, guards and watchmen, and messengers are also among those where people work over the age of 66.
Unretirement is on the rise with workers re-entering the labour market after going on retirement. Men are more likely than women to return to full-time employment after retirement, and women are more likely to return to part-time work. Marital status also influences these outcomes with divorced and separated women being more likely than married women to work after retirement.
Career changes and pivoting are becoming more common for mature workers, including transitions from high-skilled high-paid jobs to low-skilled low-paid jobs. Men and people with higher socioeconomic indicators are also more likely to transition into self-employment in their 50s and 60s.
M on productivity and digital skills are caused by a lack of age-segmented and firm-level data, especially for low skilled workers and in LICs. However, there is no evidence that the productivity of mature workers is lower than for younger workers. In fact, the Adecco Group data shows that mature workers record a significantly lower number of work accidents due to their experience and skills.
Unemployed mature workers face challenges and often lack viable solutions addressing their needs. Understanding the needs of this population requires a focused approach, thus we zoom into the following segment of mature workers:
Workers between 60 and 70 years old,
Workers who were unemployed or retired for 12 months and longer,
Low-skilled workers, particularly in physically demanding occupations,
Divorced, widowed or single with dependent relatives,
Neither in employment nor in training, but actively looking for employment,
Located in most rapidly ageing countries, and with the highest share of older population, with low or no pension security benefits and prevalent poverty rates at elderhood.
Following the Scan Phase, we start the Build process of ideation. Solutions are co-created with the end-user, and with a broad array of stakeholders who can make lateral leaps and bring different perspectives. For this purpose, we bring together a multi-stakeholder Working Group to brainstorm possible solutions to each of the challenges above. Through the ideation process, we test the emerged ideas with a testing group of end-users on the ground. Their feedback is worked back into the Working Group process to narrow down and further improve the ideas. We test these again with another focus group and use their feedback to iterate further and narrow down to two or three solutions that are assessed as viable to prototype in the Accelerator.
After completion of the Build phase, we move the most promising solutions into the Accelerator where we use techniques adapted from corporate accelerators and incubators. The key difference is that we incubate only the prototypes from our projects, not those brought in by partners or external entrepreneurs. A small, light venture team is created to take each solution forward from prototype to minimum viable product (MVP) to market. Our ventures do not aim to go fully to market, but rather they focus on developing the solutions with partners up to the point where a partner or partners feel ready to take them forward to reach the people who need them.
During the first six months (sprint 1) the venture team’s focus is to deliver an MVP for the solution. At the end of this sprint, each team pitches their solution to a panel of evaluators. If the solution is deemed viable to go forward, the teams continue for another six months (sprint 2) with additional resources and the aim to deliver a product that is developed enough to be adopted by a partner who takes it to market. At the end of sprint 2, the team pitches again to the potential implementing partners with the end goal of transitioning fully into the implementing partner’s organisation. Learnings from each sprint are shared across the cohort and fed back into the full Social Innovation Lab process to drive impact.