The future for older workers has recently become an issue of major concern to individuals, governments and employers. For many people confronted with diminishing pension savings, entitlements and extensions to state pension ages, the prospects for an early and smooth transition to retirement appear to be diminishing. For employers facing a more regulated labour market with the advent of age discrimination legislation and in the context of changing demographics and possible skill shortages, there is an increasing need for the reconsideration of the management of the older workforce. For governments, concerns about the tendency of people to retire earlier and live longer and the strains on the public purse in terms of state pensions and health service costs called for an increasingly urgent commitment to extending working life. This volume brings together various up-to-date research findings on older workers. It examines from different perspectives the opportunities and constraints that face older workers in post-industrial societies in the twenty-first century. This volume was inspired by a string of seminars which were supported by a grant from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), on the Subject of ‘Employability of Older Workers’. The seminars identified a number of underdeveloped themes that are significant to extending working lives. This introductory chapter provides an introduction to the national and international context for the current interest and concern about older workers. In addition, the chapter also provides an outline of the contents of the succeeding chapters which explores the significance and impact of the various stakeholders — governments, employers and the older individuals — in shaping the future prospects for older workers.
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