The publication of 2011 census data confirms that the UK has an ageing population and NIACE has been exploring with the Departments of Business, Innovation and Skills; Work and Pensions and Health whether such a review might encourage people to stay longer, and more productively, in work, and ensure that they retire in circumstances and ways which make them healthy and independent in retirement. Speaking in a short debate on the introduction of FE loans, Mr Hayes said:
"...I wanted to accept NIACE's proposal of a mid-life learning health check so that we could look at people at the age of 40 and 50 perhaps and use the national careers service to gauge when and where they could study to upskill or reskill. That there is a need for that has been argued in the sector for some time, and we have taken it on board...".
The idea of the proposal is to encourage and support people to review the learning and skills they need to successfully manage the second half of their lives. With more and more people remaining in paid work beyond state pension age (currently over 50,000), there is a need for adults to review their career aspirations, training, health, finances and retirement plans before age-discrimination and ill health begin to limit choices.
NIACE principal policy and advocacy officer, Alastair Thomson said:
"Careers services have focused traditionally on helping people get into the labour market but with more of us working and living longer, it's right to consider what we need to learn in mid-life so that we can continue to contribute economically and socially".
Such an approach complements ideas raised by Lord Nat Wei in his recent report Next steps: Life transitions and retirement in the 21st century. NIACE Senior Research Fellow, Professor Stephen McNair is currently consulting with national careers service contractors about the feasibility of piloting such a review in advance of autumn meetings with Government.