Cover: Employment and age in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area

Employment and age in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area

Local evidence about workers aged 50 and older

Published Aug 6, 2023

by Sarah Parkinson, Stephanie Stockwell, Robert Donoghue, Emily Hutton, Christian Van Stolk

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Research Questions

  1. If people aged 50+ are leaving the workplace earlier than expected, why is that?
  2. To what extent is the recruitment and retention of workers aged 50+ an issue for employers and people aged 50+?
  3. What populations and industry sectors are most affected by issues relating to people aged 50+ and the workforce?
  4. What is being done to support workers aged 50+ among employers, and does this reflect what workers want and need?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people aged 50+ left the workforce at a high rate in the UK, and employment rates have not yet recovered. These trends led to concerns around the health, wellbeing and quality of life of these individuals after leaving the workforce, along with questions about the overall labour supply and economy in the UK and the ability of employers to recruit and retain workers with relevant skills. Although there has been national evidence around workers aged 50+, there is limited evidence available for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area that can be used to inform decisions around how to support workers as they age.

Key Findings

  • There is a trend towards an ageing workforce, despite a dip in participation of workers aged 50+ during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some challenges faced by people aged 50+ either participating in the workforce or looking to join it included:
    • Risk of poor health and disability, which can create challenges working in certain roles, particularly where jobs are physically demanding.
    • Risk of poor health and disability, which can create challenges working in certain roles, particularly where jobs are physically demanding.
    • Real and perceived skills gaps among workers aged 50+, particularly around technology, also affect workplace and job seeking experiences, although it is important to note that these are not universal.
    • Age-based discrimination and a lack of age-friendly cultures exist in some workplaces, particularly in terms of offering career development and training opportunities to workers aged 50+.
  • However, this study also identified support that may be helpful for people aged 50+ to continue working for longer, such as targeted training courses, health and social care service intervention, and having supportive employers.
  • Workers in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area experience many of the same challenges as the wider population in the UK. However, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area has a high degree of socioeconomic and health-related inequality. This influences who is able to afford retirement in the local area, the conditions in which people work and the challenges that they face outside of work that affect their ability to participate in the labour market. In addition, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area has a number of new and emerging industries which tend to require specialised skills, particularly relating to technology. Some people aged 50+ may not have these skills or may not be perceived to have these skills. Therefore, opportunities to re-skill or up-skill may be important for those people aged 50+ wanting to work in those industries.


  • Collaboration between diverse types of stakeholders will be increasingly important to prepare for and support an ageing workforce, including employers of people aged 50+, the public sector (e.g. local authorities) and third sector organisations that support people as they age.
  • There is a need to investigate how inequalities influence how people aged 50+ experience the labour market, local skills gaps and the extent to which these align with the skills of people aged 50+ looking for work, and the support and training available to people aged 50+ and whether it meets their needs.
  • For employers: offering flexible working, job redesign and reasonable adjustments, having age-friendly management and cultures, and having age-inclusive recruitment practices are important considerations to recruit and retain workers aged 50+.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority and Cambridge Ahead and conducted by RAND Europe.

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