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Employers target pensioners to fill skills gaps

Businesses need to prepare for the looming 'demographic timebomb' as fewer young people come through university

UK businesses are actively targeting older workers in order to address recruitment difficulties and fill skills gaps, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) annual recruitment survey.

The study found that 70 percent of employers are looking to recruit people aged between 55 and pension age, while almost a third (31 percent) are looking to recruit people who are entitled to a state pension.

Eight out of 10 businesses reported recruitment difficulties and 68 percent of those said this was down to a lack of necessary specialist skills in the market.

New employment regulations around age, which are due to come into force later this year, are also one of the drivers behind the recruitment of older workers.

But the 26 to 34-year-old range still remains the main age group UK employers are targeting.

The CIPD study also found that UK companies continue to look overseas to fill some vacancies, with 15 percent of employers targeting migrant workers from the new EU states. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of companies are also using e-recruitment in order to cut the cost and time involved in hiring new staff.

In the 2006 Skills Survey carried out by ZDNet UK sister site Silicon.com, 52 percent of the 1,198 respondents said hiring staff from overseas is not an essential way of filling short-term skills gaps, while 24 percent said it is.

The latest statistics from UK IT industry group e-Skills UK show the average age of an IT professional is 37 years old for a man and 38 years old for a woman.

Karen Price, chief executive of e-skills UK, said businesses need to prepare for the looming "demographic timebomb" as fewer young people come through university.

She said: "The pool of talent will be smaller and it will be fiercely competitive to get the brightest and best people."

Price added that offshoring will also have an impact on the skills gap, with many entry-level positions now being sent overseas leading to fewer people progressing naturally up to more senior management positions.

She said: "There is no room for complacency."