Ageing Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities

The National Productivity and Competitiveness Council (NPCC) is undertaking a research on the topic “Ageing Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities for the Republic of Mauritius” with the objective to engage relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of a strategic action plan to address the issue of an ageing workforce in the short, medium and long term.

The rationale for the research is based on the fact that an ageing population is threatening future growth in Mauritius. As the population ages, so will the workforce. Managing this ageing workforce will pose a new set of challenges for employers, employees, trade unions and government in relation to employment, productivity, skill shortages, the ability to meet changing demand, working conditions, living standards, welfare and health care provision.

Statistics have shown that the population growth of the island has stagnated at a low rate of 0.1% in recent years. While total population at the end of 2016 was 1.26 million, it is expected to decline as from early 2020s. With improved life expectancy, the population age structure is expected to change, causing the dependency ratio to worsen and impacting on the size of the local labour force.

A rapidly ageing population implies that there would be fewer working-age people in the economy, leading to a mismatch between demand and supply of required talent to fill in necessary positions. An economy that faces a talent mismatch may face adverse consequences, including declining productivity, higher labour costs, held back business expansion and reduced international competitiveness.

Although this may appear at first to be a negative phenomenon or even a crisis, it might not necessarily be bad news, provided the economy rises to the challenges of transitioning to new markets for goods and services targeting elderly people, and ensures a high level of innovation and competitiveness.

The topic “Ageing Workforce – Opportunities and Challenges for the Republic of Mauritius” is the second theme being studied on the Engaging Citizen Online (ECO) virtual platform of the NPCC.

“Any demographic change presents new opportunities which Mauritius could tap on to enhance productivity and competitiveness. This research is timely for Mauritius as we transition to a high income economy,” says Mr. Deepak Balgobin, the Executive Director of the NPCC.

The NPCC has set up a Productivity Committee (PC) comprising of representatives of the public and private sector, academia, non-governmental and community based organisations and trade unions to oversee the research and provide expert advice.

Besides desk work, focus group discussions with specific target groups and one-to-one consultations with relevant stakeholders facilitated by Dr. Anita Ramgutty Wong are being carried out. To enable citizens to share their views and perspectives about the subject, street surveys have been carried out across Mauritius and on the online ECO platform. The research is also being extended to Rodrigues.

Research findings will be shared with PC members and relevant actors during an action planning workshop to be organised by the end of April to craft strategies to address the issue of an ageing workforce in Mauritius.  

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