Improving the health of older workers should be a priority for EU member states in order to maximise the potential of senior members of the labour force, according to the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK).

The organisation also highlighted the importance of boosting skills and supporting older women in employment, both of which could be introduced as part of a workforce management strategy.

In a new report compiled with support from Prudential, ILC-UK argued that older people have not been exempt from the impact of the recession and should have fair opportunities to earn an income.

Governments were urged to facilitate progress in this area by tackling ageism and promoting appropriate jobs for senior workers.

The study highlighted a number of significant points and concerns, including the skills gap faced by many European countries due to demographic change.

There are 13.5 million job vacancies that need to be filled over the next decade in the UK alone, but only seven million young people are set to leave school and college in that time.

ILC-UK also pointed out that European governments failed to meet a target employment rate of 50 per cent for older people by 2010.

In 2012, just under 49 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds living in EU countries were in paid work.

David Sinclair, assistant director of policy and communications at ILC-UK, said Europe’s economy is driven by the capabilities of its workforce, meaning it will become more important to harness the potential of older employees as society ages.

“Yet few European governments have got to grips with the challenges of an older workforce,” he added.

“We must not, however, pitch one generation against another. European policymakers must focus on tackling the barriers [to] employability across the life course. Flexible working and opportunities for people of all ages to develop their skills are vital.”

A previous study from ILC-UK warned that the oldest members of the population are the most at risk of social isolation in Britain.