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Table 4 Main issues identified in relation to COVID-19 and the ageing workforce

From: COVID-19 and the ageing workforce: global perspectives on needs and solutions across 15 countries

Issue Example (s)
Cultural influences Israel reported that that Israelis are adaptable to sudden changes because of war conflicts. The emphasis on seniority in Nigeria means that older, more vulnerable employees are more likely to be at work whereas this may be the opposite in a Western country. Most Swedish regulations concerning COVID-19 are issued as recommendations, not as compulsory laws. Civic responsibility is easier to implement in a high developed social benefit state.
Age population distributions and retirement vary. Japan being a super aging country whilst Nigeria and Israel being young countries. Overall countries have a relatively similar retirement age.
More women disadvantaged Israel and the UK reported that women were more likely to be disadvantaged by the pandemic as many older women worked in the service sector, which remain one of the first industries to shut down in many countries.
Lower income people more disadvantaged, often consisting of large proportions of older people Austria, Thailand and Germany reported that lower income people are facing particular challenges during the pandemic.
Mental health impacts Mental health is large issue globally during the pandemic, reported e.g. by Romania, Sweden, South Koreas, UK and Canada. Case studies identified forced attendance at work for 14 days (Romania), increased depression due to prolonged isolation (South Korea), inability to attend import personal events such as funerals (Canada) and worsening mental health by a quarter of people participating in a survey (UK).
Lack of digital skills Israel reported major underlying changes of large income gaps and disparities in productivity between high-tech segments and older, underperforming segments. Sweden also reported that highly skilled workers and ICT and knowledge driven sectors were most prepared to deal with change. This digital skills problem for workers in other sectors expands into their personal life; the ability to use online ordering and communicating online is important during the pandemic in order to maintain physical and mental health. While this overall remains an issue in Thailand, Sweden reports that the necessity of learning new digital skills has increased digital competence in the older population and thus may assist in future employability.
Informal workforce Informal businesses and workforce play a large role in Thailand, Nigeria, China and South Korea. These workers are not socially protected in the same way as formal employment. Similarly, a UK study identified that a large proportion of older workers were in insecure work.
Being laid off, once unemployed difficult to come back Being laid off from work is one of the most common issues reported due to COVID-19. China reported that older workers were the most vulnerable group among staff being laid off around spring time. Austria, Australia, UK, and the US reported that specifically for older people being unemployed makes it difficult to re-engage with work. Contrastingly, in Germany older workers were not particularly vulnerable to being laid off.
Certain industry hit hardest China, Canada, Singapore and Israel reported that the services industry, including hospitality, cleaning and retail industries were highly impacted. It is anticipated that there will be long-term effects for these industries, as well as the travel and tourism industries.