Education and job type affect over-55s’ employment

In 2020, nearly six out of ten (59.6 %) people aged 55-64 were employed in the EU. In comparison, the employment level of younger people, aged 20-54, stood at nearly eight out of ten (76.2 %).

The employment rate of both younger and older individuals depends on their educational attainment level. The higher their education level, the higher their employment rate.

Younger people, aged 20-54, with a low level of educational attainment had an employment rate of 59.9 %, while this rate was 15.8 percentage points (pp) higher for those with a medium level (75.7 %) and 25.8 pp higher for those with a high level (85.7 %) of education.

Similarly, there were large differences between the employment levels among older people, depending on their educational attainment: 44.0 % of individuals aged 55-64 with a low level of education were employed compared to 60.9 % with a medium level and 75.6 % with a high level of educational attainment

The latter proportion of employed 55-64 year-old individuals with a high level of educational attainment was very similar to the total proportion of employed 20-54 year-olds (76.2 %), regardless of their educational level.

Additionally, the share of unemployed people was also smaller for older workers than among younger ones. However, the share of people outside the labour force was higher among the older workers, and especially for those with a low educational attainment level: over one in two (51.3 %) people aged 55-64 with a low educational level was outside the labour force.

More elementary occupations among the former workers aged 55-64

Besides the level of educational attainment, the occupation of older people has an important impact on their employment. Comparing the distribution of people aged 55-64 by occupation between employed and not employed persons, differences can be observed between the two groups.

While professionals correspond to the current occupation of 1 in 5 older workers (19.9 %), they only represent the former occupation of 1 in 10 older former workers (11.1 %). Also, technicians and associate professionals (15.8 % versus 12.9 %) and legislators, senior officials and managers (6.1 % versus 4.0 %) are more represented among the older workers than among the older not employed people.

By contrast, the share of elementary occupations (18.7 % versus 10.0 %) and the share of service workers and shop and market sales workers (18.7 % versus 14.5) are larger among the not employed people aged 55-64.

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