Workforce ageing, the need for an inclusive design approach in manufacturing industry

Demographic trends clearly indicate that the number of people over 60 years of age is increasing in most developing countries, while the availability of a young workforce is decreasing due to falling birth rates. Successful global competition drives the need to ensure the availability of a skilled workforce which accommodates older workers, is a real challenge for industrial organizations. An Inclusive Design approach is considered helpful in the assessment of workstations, product or service design requirements and the establishment of realistic production standards during the design development phase in any manufacturing industry. The approach can be used for a variety of industrial applications especially in manufacturing tasks such as assembly, maintenance, lifting, loading, unloading, transporting and machine operating activities. This paper reveals the need for an Inclusive Design approach that can potentially increase the productive time of the older workforce which can then make a valuable contribution to the economy. The paper also describes initial research which involves the re-analysis of a very large UK survey on ageing and disability and new data on joint mobility and its significance to the ageing workforce.