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February 18, 2016

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Graphic: The future of work – the workforce is also changing…

In her fifth graphic for SHP, Dr Helen Beers explains the future of work and how the workforce is changing, with population increasing and ageing. 

So far, our look at research by the HSE at their Health and Safety Laboratory’s Foresight Centre has shown how emerging trends, technologies and globalisation will change how we will work in the future.

Another key change taking place relates to the age profile of the UK population and workforce.

Looking ahead, the UK population, and workforce, will continue to increase in size and people will live and work for longer.

The average age of the UK population is increasing (the proportion of those aged 60 and over is anticipated to increase by around 5% over the next 15 years).


By 2030, almost 25% of the UK population will be aged 65 or older.

We are already seeing that people are working later into their lives: according to the Office for National Statistics, the percentage of workers aged 65 and over has doubled in the last decade.

Whilst we know that ageing leads to an increase in the risk of developing some disorders and diseases, as yet, only limited knowledge exists about the health and safety consequences (both positive and negative) of work and the work environment on  the post-65 worker.

The data that is available today enables the Foresight Centre at HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory to anticipate what the changing age demographic of the workforce may mean for occupational health and safety.

However, there are still gaps in our knowledge and understanding with respect to the effects of prolonged workplace exposure on workers and how this might affect the normal ageing process, functional abilities and occurrence of disease during the working life.


Helen BeersDr Helen Beers  joined HSL in 2009 with responsibility for leading HSL’s social research work. She is currently the Technical Team Lead within HSL’s Foresight Centre, where her work focuses on demographics and ageing. Helen has a PhD in Health Psychology and prior to joining HSL worked within the health, education and finance sectors.






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Vince Docherty
Vince Docherty
8 years ago

It is right to consider the factors of the older part of the workforce, but I hope that it can be done without PC Barriers about “ageism”. Many workers reach pension age, take the money and leave, only to go back to the same company in a different role. Others leave and go to work in a completely different style of company, such as the stressed sales manager who retires and goes to work in a garden centre. There are two different groups of hazard here. One goes back to a familiar surrounding, but in a different capacity, with an… Read more »

Karen Bissell
Karen Bissell
8 years ago

Many people are forced to continue working due to financial and familial needs. Long gone are the days when the family embraces the retired person, movement of people and technology has done away with a lot of that. Also, financially, due to pension collapses, poor fiscal advice etc., people are finding that they are having to keep on working to an older age – and of course the retirement age is always moving – goalposts widen! I do feel that women are still at a disadvantage due to the older traditional family values of staying at home looking after children… Read more »