believes that the UK cannot afford to waste the talents of older workers as it emerges from recession. This is the main message of its response to the Government's consultation on the default retirement age, and is clearly supported by the report from the Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC). However, this abolition needs to be linked to significant investment in training and careers guidance for people over 50 and not limited to younger people.
NIACE believes that the default retirement age should be abolished for three reasons: * It is unfair. The default retirement age allows employers to dismiss people regardless of their capability or aspirations on the arbitrary basis of age. This contradicts the spirit of the law on equality and human rights; * it damages the efficient management of the workforce, by removing productive workers and demotivating many in their last years before retirement; and * it is inconsistent with Government policy to encourage people to remain longer in the workforce: to improve the economic dependency ratio and improve the health and wellbeing of the adult population.
The relationship between learning and the lifecourse was a major feature of the recent report of the National Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning (sponsored by NIACE). Its report, Learning through Life, argues that demographic change makes it important to reconsider education and training policy in a lifecourse perspective. It proposed that the current three phase model, which dominates public policy (with breaks at 18-22 and 60/65), should be replaced with a ‘four quarters' model (divided at 25, 50 and 75) which would better reflect people's experience of life and work, and the needs of the economy. Critically, this change would recognise the phase from 50-75 as one of continuing engagement with society, through paid and unpaid work, but with progressive disengagement from the paid economy, rather than a sharp break at a formal retirement age.