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Employment Levels of Older People

Volume 760: debated on Thursday 5 March 2015

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the effect on the youth unemployed of a potential increase in the employment levels of older people.

My Lords, I have tabled this debate largely to illuminate the employment challenges faced by the over-50s in our society. I am privileged to head up a think tank, the ILC-UK, or International Longevity Centre, one of 17 around the world. Through it, we try to help people plan for the future in the light of demographic change and look at the challenges, as well as some of the advantages, of our increased longevity.

Recently, the ILC published two new reports called The Missing Million. These illuminate the employment challenges of people who are over 50, demonstrating that, of the 3.3 million economically inactive people aged 50 to 64, approximately 1 million have been made “involuntarily workless”. We know that the plight of people aged 50-plus is worse than that of those aged 60-plus in a country where there has been very important legislation to ban age discrimination for some years. This really is bad and economically stupid.

The ILC research also shows that if people aged 50 and above are helped back into employment, it does not mean that younger people are crowded out of the labour market. Helping older people into the labour market, or back into it, could also lead to a potential £88 billion boost to UK GDP. As we know, these people create jobs in the consumer sector if they are working because they create the need for more things for other people to buy as those people have more money to spend. If they work and are caring for older relatives, grandchildren or even their own children, then other people are employed in caring. They are a boost to the economy, not a drain on it. This is creating more wealth.

We also know that people who are denied access into the labour market through discrimination, or for whatever reason, will tend to disappear into the black market and the black economy. They will do that because very often they need the money and they have some skills. That is the rather sad result of inadequate policies and safeguards to ensure that they can get work.

The Government created a business champion for older workers, Dr Ros Altmann, who argued recently that if everybody retired one year later, it would add 1% to this nation’s GDP. We know that chronological age has now become rather irrelevant; what we are talking about is capacity and the will to work and to contribute to society and in most cases—because we do not force people into scaffolding or something at the age of 50-plus—people who are in work have a better health record, a better social life with mates or friends and feel that they have more self-worth because they are contributing to the nation’s economy and to society at large. I share Ros Altmann’s belief that retirement should be a journey rather than a one-off event. No employer should make an assumption that employees should be on the work scrapheap because they have reached an arbitrary milestone in their lives.

One common argument against greater labour market participation in older age is that it will prevent younger people entering or staying in paid employment because it takes the jobs away from them. We know, however, that that argument is built on the false assumption that there is a fixed number of jobs in an economy—the lump of labour argument. It has been demonstrated over and over again that that is a fallacy: there is no lump of labour. Creating jobs for people creates a market for more jobs. It is nonsense to assume the opposite, but that assumption goes on.

An increasing number of older people in employment can also support employment across all ages. Older and younger people in a job in a firm can work together. You have the experience of someone who knows the history of the company and young people who may have more vibrant or new ideas to introduce. Together, they are stronger than if there is just one age group. That is a good sign in an economy, and it needs to be encouraged.

Saga carried out some research on that, which showed that the extension of people’s working lives has enhanced employment opportunities for people of all age groups, in particular for younger people. Using data spanning about 50 years from 22 countries, some very good OECD research in 2010 found that old and young workers complement each other rather than substitute for one another, so encouraging later retirement will not have an adverse effect on youth employment. At an individual level, there are also potential benefits—earnings gains, pensions saved and improved financial well-being—but there are also benefits to individuals’ health and well-being. There is a reason to get up in the morning. There is a reason to meet your friends, social interaction, having a part in society and feeling that you have self-worth. Those are all excellent things.

It is encouraging that as part of the DWP’s Age Positive initiative, the Government announced in December an older workers’ champion scheme to combat age discrimination offering targeted support for older jobseekers. I welcome that and hope that the Minister will tell us how well it is doing and how we can all encourage it to do more.

Looking at other good examples, everybody in this field has heard of B&Q, because it led the way in employing older people. Barclays recently launched a new apprenticeship scheme for the over-50s who want a career in the City. We know of the success of Teach First. I have been promoting the idea of “mentor later”. We are looking at how we can do something on those lines with older people.

There are many things that one can do. Paid employment is one thing, but there are other opportunities for older people to play a full role in society. As for stimulating youth employment, the best way to achieve that is through targeted measures that will make young people better prospects for employers, such as improved training and supporting the growth agenda. Young people often benefit from mentoring at work from their older colleagues.

The employment of older people does not keep younger people out of the job market. Rather, by the means outlined above, all our adult citizens, irrespective of their age, who want to work should and could be helped not only to fulfil their aspirations but to contribute to the economy at large, our economy, our society and the benefit of us all.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for securing this important debate. She is a superb advocate for the elderly, and this debate demonstrates her sharp concern for old and young alike. It is appropriate that we are having this debate in the Moses Room. The Bible tells us that Moses lived for 120 years, and even at that age, his eyes were clear and his vigour unabated. Sadly, history is silent on the effect on the Old Testament labour market. British life spans have not reached biblical levels, but many Britons are now working well into their 60s, and 1.1 million workers are now over 65. That is a quarter of a million more than when default retirement was abolished four years ago. That has had a major effect, but broader social trends are also at work. The number of older people working has increased throughout the past two decades. The decline of heavy manual work, improved health and the rise of part-time working are all making a contribution. We cannot turn back these trends, nor should we try to. For one thing, the earnings of older workers create demand and jobs. For another, the impact on full-time workers is smaller than it appears. Fewer than 20% of over-65s have a traditional full-time job. Most are part-time or self-employed. The vast majority of young people want full-time jobs, so they will not feel direct competition.

However, the ability to retain skilled workers will impact on companies’ decisions to hire new people. For higher-paid workers, this can be partly dealt with by employers offering lower wages as workers learn their trade. However, at lower levels of pay, the minimum wage rightly limits this approach. This should not change. We have the minimum wage in order to prevent exploitation of all workers.

We must find another way to help younger workers, especially those on the edges of the labour market. The key is to improve the skills of those young people who struggle to find full-time work. We offer significant support to university students, but our offer to those who do not take that route is much less effective. The crucial group is the NEETs: young people not in work, school or vocational education. For all the media stereotypes, what sets NEETs apart is that they do not have good GCSEs. This means they often pursue low-level qualifications which lead only to casual work and frequent unemployment. Bluntly, the Government are failing these teenagers, at school, after school and in the job centre.

How can we do better? First, we must offer all young people the chance to advance their careers while still at school, not just those destined for higher education. This requires a greater variety of educational provision, which could be delivered through vocational courses, specialist schools, university technical colleges or even by industrial partners—provision by industrial partners is growing. Next, we need every young person to get maths and English qualifications, even well after they finish school. All the evidence shows that these core qualifications are vital to finding work. The Government have made the right choice by insisting students who do not get good maths and English GCSEs take these courses as part of vocational education or apprenticeships, yet many drop out or do not pass. Data from the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion show that more than a quarter of apprentices do not successfully complete their course, a far higher rate than for A-level students. That is a disturbing figure, as those young people are precisely those likely to struggle in the labour market.

Our aim should be that every single 21 year-old has maths and English qualifications. We should not stop educating them until they do, whatever it takes. For example, that might mean paying employers to support failed apprentices studying for an extra year and at the same time having some mentoring by older people who are beyond retirement age. This will mean working unconventionally, whether with employers or with health and social work teams that pick up the hardest-to-reach young people.

Finally, we must expose young people to the world of work much earlier, so that they can build links with employers and understand what is required to hold down a good job. To do that, we need local employers, councils and colleges to work together to improve education and training courses. This will help employers anticipate the problems some young people have in adapting to work, such as with the structure of the working day. This is not an impossible challenge. In most cities, just a few hundred young people need this kind of focused support each year. Each worker over retirement age could be a mentor, providing early work experience and career support, and putting young people on the right course to get a good job.

In an age when the competition for work is greater than ever, our challenge lies with the neglected young people who deserve better from us. We cannot prevent older workers earning, and we should not race to the bottom on wages. That means that we must resolve to do better for those at the margins of the labour market.

My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss this issue and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for initiating this debate. I share her concerns and conclusions. There is an assumption that apprenticeships should be for younger people, but there are advantages in apprenticeships for older people—I think of the example of Barclays, as well as others in the construction industry, which are particularly welcome. The noble Baroness is absolutely right, too, to draw our attention to the needs of the over-50s. Those who, for whatever reason, lose their jobs in their late 40s or early 50s can find it quite difficult to return to the world of work.

It is true that more older people work than used to be the case. There are now more than 1.1 million people aged over 65 who work—an increase in the last year of more than 50,000. I welcome the opportunity for older people to be in work if they wish to be, and I accept entirely that we have to do more to ensure that every individual is enabled to work if they want to be in work. It is also true that younger people can face difficulties in securing employment, in securing employment that pays enough and in securing employment that can lead to career development. However, it does not follow—I am entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, on this—that there needs to be an adverse effect on youth employment arising from older people staying in employment for longer.

There are two reasons for that. The first is the growth in the economy that we are now experiencing, together with the huge growth in vocational apprenticeships for young people, both of which will make a big difference. Secondly, older people will still be retiring at some point, so the growth need not be a long-term upwards trend, even if it continues for a few years.

Given the growth in the number of jobs that has taken place in the last five years, with almost 31 million people now in work in the United Kingdom, older people are needed, not least to train the next generation and transfer their skills to them. It is interesting to note that around two-thirds of the growth in employment over the past five years seems to be in higher-skilled jobs. Older people have tended to fill those jobs, and one consequence is that fewer young people get promoted and so start to earn more. As I said, before long that trend should cease.

Not everyone wants to continue working when they are older. Over the next few years, despite the growth in the number of older people staying in work for longer, some 200,000 people are expected to retire from manufacturing and engineering jobs. They will have to be replaced at a time when more are needed anyway. This country has a skills gap. All over the United Kingdom, in manufacturing, engineering and the process industries, there are shortages at level 3 and above. That is why apprenticeships matter—apprenticeships driven by the needs of businesses. We should welcome the huge growth in apprenticeship starts. There have been more than 2 million under this Government, which is twice as high as the figure achieved by the previous Government. That is contributing so much to vocational training and equipping many more young people to undertake skilled work.

Apprenticeships can be of different kinds, and older workers can transfer their skills to younger workers through them. I am impressed by the commitment of businesses all over the country to them—for example, the shared apprenticeship scheme of the Construction Industry Training Board, which enables more young people to be trained because they can be with more than one employer over the three-year period of an apprenticeship. There have been successful pilots in Lancashire, Merseyside and Wales, with several more schemes now offering three-year apprenticeships. Importantly, more than 90% of those who complete their three-year shared apprenticeship by this means secure full-time jobs, which is higher than the average.

As we achieve higher growth, we need to reflect on the fact that just over 16% of young people aged 16 to 24 are still unemployed. That is around three-quarters of a million. Of those, some 40% are in some form of education or training, but that figure is simply too high, despite the significant achievements of this Government. We need much better careers advice for young people when they choose courses at school, to ensure that the courses they take enable them to take up the apprenticeships at a later date. We need careers advice in schools to broker better relationships with employers. Some very interesting research has been undertaken, not least that by IPPR North in January 2014 which explained how that might be done to the advantage of both employers and young people. The reason why all this matters is that the nature of employment is changing and the level of skills needed is higher than it used to be.

It is a welcome fact that unemployment is going down, and has been doing so for some time, but it needs to go down faster for young people, and the pay rates for young people need to rise. None of this needs have an effect on the potential for additional employment opportunities for older people. This week I noticed on Tuesday a report on the front page of the Financial Times and then later comments from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about movements in pay reported by HMRC from the PAYE system over the past six years. It is interesting to see that the regions outside London cut the pay gap with London in the six years from 2008 to 2014, with cash growth in median pay in London half the rate in the United Kingdom as a whole. Interestingly, the rate in London is a quarter of the rate in the north-east of England, where I live. Regionally, from the perspective of the north-east, I strongly welcome that. However, that is a geographical test of course, and we need to go a bit further. By age, the IFS said that median pay for young people between the ages of 22 and 29 is down 9% in real terms in those six years, so growth in median pay is lower in London and it is much worse for younger people. Those two facts relate to each other because in London young people make up a much higher proportion of the workforce: the average age of workers is 34 in London but 40 in the rest of the United Kingdom.

In one sense, this confirms what we already know in terms of intergenerational differences, but we need to be more alert to it because younger people cannot be expected to manage high personal debt as well as cover future debt from government borrowing today. They need secure jobs and jobs that pay enough to meet their essential expenditure. We need to ensure that the overall gains of economic growth resulting from the work that this Government have undertaken so effectively, particularly in the past two or three years, are spread and shared by all—both the older and the younger.

My Lords, this has been an interesting short debate. I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for enabling us to reflect on this issue today and for her many years of championing older people in our society. I also thank my noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya for pointing out that we have Moses presiding over us today. I remind him that we also have a very young Daniel presiding over us. Perhaps that tells us something about the importance of both young and older people and the wisdom that they both have to offer to us in our judgments.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, have done a fine job of debunking the lump of labour fallacy, thereby saving the Minister and me the need to do that. However, it is worth dwelling on it briefly. I am amazed by just how hard it is to persuade most people that something that seems as obvious as the idea that if more older people work, younger people will not be able to may not in fact be true. That is something for the Government to think about. How does one go about trying to make sure that everybody understands that things are a bit more complicated than that?

In the pack that the House of Lords Library made to help us with this debate, which was very helpful, they kindly included a very interesting report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 2008 called Releasing jobs for the young? Early retirement and youth unemployment in the United Kingdom. It could almost have been written for today. Of course, the IFS evaluated the job release scheme, which was designed precisely to release jobs for younger people, but also looked at the measures that Governments took between the late 1960s and 2005. Its findings precisely backed up the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. On the job release scheme, it found,

“some evidence that it reduced employment of the old but no positive effect can be found on youth employment”.

It went on to say:

“When looking at the entire 1968-2005 period, labor force participation of the old is positively associated with employment of the young … Overall we find no evidence of long-term crowding-out of younger individuals from the labor market by older workers. The evidence, according to a variety of methods, points always in the direction of an absence of such a relationship”.

So the evidence is really very strong, and I hope that we can all agree with that.

That said, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, that there is an issue about youth unemployment, which needs quick and careful attention. I agree with my noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya about the importance of focusing on NEETs and the importance of skills, a point also made by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. However, despite the welcome improvement in employment rates generally, young people are now almost three times as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the population. The youth unemployment proportion is 13%, whereas it is only 4% for 25 to 64 year-olds. So something is going on there. Young people are now faring, comparatively speaking, worse than at any point since 1992, which means that the UK is now towards the bottom of the league table internationally when it comes to giving young people a fair chance, with the gap between the youth unemployment rate and the overall rate higher in the UK than in all but five out of 39 OECD countries for which data are available.

We need to see some good help being given to young people, but only 35% of young people find a job after two years on the Work Programme. Indeed, more people return to the jobcentre than find a job as a result of the Work Programme. Last summer, the Government announced that they had decided to scrap the Youth Contract ahead of its planned closure. The latest figures published by the DWP showed that two-thirds of the way through the scheme’s three-year duration, the Youth Contract had delivered less than 13% of the promised job placements, with 20,030 wage incentives paid rather than the target of 160,000. So there is reason to be concerned and need for action.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya about the importance of careers and mentoring and getting education right, but we need more direct intervention, too. Labour would tackle this problem by bringing in a compulsory job guarantee for anyone under 25 who has been on JSA for a year or more, as well as reforming the Work Programme and introducing a new youth allowance to ensure that unemployed 18 to 21 year-olds who do not have the skills they need to get a decent job are training as well as looking for work. We simply cannot afford to have young people scarred by damaging periods of unemployment, which can carry on having effects throughout their working lives.

Then there is the position of older workers, described very movingly by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. If you want to see the effects on older people of being able to turn up every day for work, to feel that they have a sense of worth and something to contribute and to mix with friends and colleagues, we do not have to look very far from this Room. The House of Lords shows just what a positive effect having a role to play in society can have on some people at quite a considerable age.

However, as the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, pointed out, there are still too many older people who would like to work but cannot get a job or who lose their job in their 50s and then struggle to get back in, despite having great skills and experience. If the state pension age is to continue to rise, we need to ensure that older people can stay in employment on the kind of wages that enable them to carry on saving for a pension. Otherwise, not only will they end up struggling to get by on benefits designed for those who are temporarily unemployed, they will not be able to build up the kind of pension provision that they will need to have a comfortable retirement when they get there.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, mentioned that the DWP will be giving more tailored support, and I will be very interested to hear what the Minister has to say. At the moment, it is not working. In fact, the Work Programme works even less well for older workers than for younger workers. In the latest figures available, 30% of 18 to 24 year-olds achieved a job outcome, but of 50 to 54 year-olds it was just 17% and it fell to 13% of 55 to 59 year-olds and of those who were 60-plus fewer than 7% achieved a job outcome. Whatever is happening now is simply not working for older people who want to get back into the workforce.

Labour would reform the Work Programme, devolving it to make it more responsive to the needs of older people in different areas of the country. We would also introduce a compulsory jobs guarantee to ensure that older jobseekers who have been unemployed for more than two years are guaranteed the offer of a paid job, and we would look to help more older workers save for a pension. With the latest figures showing that less than a third of self-employed workers are currently saving into a pension—older workers are more likely to be self-employed—we would act to find ways to help older self-employed workers to save for a pension. We would cut red tape for older workers. The new universal credit rules threaten 600,000 self-employed workers with a huge increase in red tape, and that is something that Labour is committed to addressing. We would also introduce a higher rate of jobseeker’s allowance for those who have contributed for longer, funded by extending the length of time for which people need to have worked to qualify.

I will be very interested to hear from the Minister what the Government’s strategy is to address that very serious problem. I have two other specific questions for him. First, what thought are the Government giving to ways in which employers as a whole can think about the way workers move into retirement? We have known for a long time that it is not always the most healthy thing for someone to go from a full-time, very high-stress job into nothing at all. It is not good for their physical or mental health and is certainly not good for their spouse or partner in many cases. Have the Government given some thought as to how strategically as a country we might approach that? Secondly, have the Government considered what impact, if any, the new pension freedoms might have on the pattern of labour market participation by older workers?

There is a challenge for us as a country to ensure that neither older nor younger workers are left behind as the economy slowly recovers. Fortunately, I do not believe that the people of our country will warm to a public debate that divides generation from generation. After all, many older people are deeply concerned about the opportunities and prospects for their children and grandchildren, and conversely the young do not want to see their parents and grandparents thrown on the scrapheap at 50 when they have so much to contribute. Apart from the individual costs, our country can ill afford to lose the talents and energies of either our younger or our older workers. If we do not tackle those challenges, we will all be the poorer.

My Lords, like other speakers in this debate, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for bringing this question to the Committee. I am really pleased to acknowledge the work she has done in this area. She has been director general of Age Concern and is now chief executive of the International Longevity Centre. I am also very pleased to be able to respond to as many of the points made by colleagues in the Committee as I can.

We are today talking not about a potential increase in the employment of older people but about a very real and sustained improvement. The past year has seen the number of over-50s in work exceed 9 million for the first time. It has risen by nearly 250,000 in the past 12 months and by more than 1 million since 2010. That is not just about the number of older people rising. The proportion of over-50s in work has also reached the highest on record.

The question of whether the increase in the number of old people in work has an impact on other groups is one that I think we are all in violent agreement on—the lump of labour fallacy. The figures that we have just seen demonstrate that it is a fallacy. If we exclude young people who are in full-time education, the employment of under-25s has risen by nearly 70,000 in the past year alone and by 140,000 since 2010.

I will pick up on the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, that 16% of young people are still unemployed. The actual figure, if students are excluded, is 6.8% of young people unemployed at that level. So we should not worry about a rise in employment in one group damaging the chances of another. We are not in a zero-sum game. A recent report for the European Parliament which looked at employment trends for older and younger workers across the EU found no trade-off between rates of employment. The IFS study which the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, quoted looked specifically at the UK. It concluded:

“When looking at the entire 1968 to 2005 period … we find no evidence of long-term crowding-out of younger individuals from the labour market by older workers”.

It is interesting how Governments used to think like this. The 1970s and 1980s programmes such as the Job Release Scheme, which positively encouraged older people to leave the market so that it would free up jobs for the young, had their origins in that thinking. It is interesting that the IFS concluded that that particular programme did achieve one of its aims. It reduced employment among older workers but there was no evidence of a corresponding effective employment of young people.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, raised the Saga report on how over-50s make an important and growing contribution to society. It made the point that she was making that encouraging people to leave the labour force early reduces spending power and demand in the economy.

Evidence from research goes in the entirely opposite way to the lump of labour fallacy, because older and younger workers are likely to complement each other. A study by the RAND organisation in 2009, using data from 22 OECD countries, suggested that there was a positive effect. In other words, for every one additional older person in work, the overall effect was nearly 1.1 more people in work. Far from the substitution effect, firms may choose to hire both because this brings a healthy mix of skills, qualities and experiences.

I want to outline briefly what the Government are doing for older workers. We abolished the default retirement age in 2011; we extended the right to request flexible working for all; and we have introduced Fit for Work, which helps with sickness absence and provides an occupational health assessment and health and work advice to employees, employers and GPs. In Jobcentres, work coaches have the flexibility to offer all claimants a comprehensive menu of support. In addition, in last year’s Autumn Statement we announced two pilots, which will support 3,000 people who need help to move back into work or start a new career in a different sector. These will be based on our current sector-based work academies and work experience programmes—currently more orientated at youngsters—but tailored to the needs of older people.

We are planning two further trials that will explore what may provide effective support for these older claimants. The first will look at support through a career review-based approach and the second will look at providing IT and digital support. We will also introduce regional champions in Jobcentre Plus, as referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. That champion role will start later this month. I want these roles to work with local employers and share good practice so that we can promote activity for older claimants in the regions.

The noble Baroness raised the issue of those made involuntarily workless and talked about there being 1 million of them. We published Fuller Working Lives to set out what the Government and others are doing to tackle this. We are making good progress on the commitments in respect of it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, asked about the Work Programme. That treats everyone as an individual rather than looking at this on the basis of age. Up to September 2014, there had been 300,000 referrals of people aged 50 and over, which resulted in more than 42,000 job outcomes.

The noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, made a point about flexibility in pension schemes. That is key, in that it enables more flexible retirement options. We are bringing in new flexibilities in April for people with defined contribution pension arrangements by introducing new freedoms in terms of how and when they access their pension payments.

As for policies for younger workers, sector-based work academies are available in England and Scotland. That has been a very successful programme, with a combination of pre-employment training, work experience and guaranteed interviews. They are local and demand-led, so you have different sectors depending on where you are running those schemes. There have been more than 88,000 sector-based work academy starts for 18 to 24 year-olds since the scheme began in August 2011. We have had 247,000 work experience placements for 18 to 24 year-olds, and various healthy outcomes, with half of work experience participants off benefits 21 weeks after starting their placements. The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, raised the issue of the success of apprenticeships. There have been more than 2 million since the election.

This is more of a theoretical debate than a political one, but I will just pick up very gently the description given by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, of some of the Labour policies, such as the jobs guarantee. I am in despair about all that, because that is the kind of top-down approach of saying, “We can produce the jobs for the people and put them into them”, which is exactly the wrong way to go about creating a dynamic economy. You want to have people put into real jobs that will last. I just express my despair and move on.

To pick up the point about apprenticeships again, we clearly need to see how that works for older people. It has worked really well for younger people and is something that Ros Altmann has been championing for older people. As noble Lords have pointed out, there are schemes now, from Barclays for example, to do that. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Bhattacharyya, they have been successful: 89% of employers report that that process has helped their business and improved their quality and standards. Last year the Education Secretary announced a new careers and enterprise company for schools to transform the provision of careers education and advice for young people. I repeat my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for bringing this Question to the House. Today’s contributions have been interesting and I think we are all fundamentally in agreement, apart from my one point of despair.

Youth unemployment is a really serious matter and this debate has been another opportunity for us to emphasise that increasing the number of older workers does not have an adverse effect on youth employment.

Sitting suspended.