The short expert report by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) analyses the labour market situation of older employees in the roofing sector. In public debates, this occupational group is frequently referred to as evidence that employees in physically demanding jobs practically cannot work until they reach pension age. ZEW’s quantitative analyses using employer-employee data show that the question how older workers could be employed until they reach pensionable age has practically been no issue to date.

This, however, is not related to an excessive rate of roofers retiring early. In fact, roofing jobs are typical early-stage jobs which attract young, low-qualified men at the beginning of their professional carrier. The major part of employees working in the roofing sector abandon the job as early as at the age of 40-50, i.e. long before the current and future pension age.

Only 12 per cent of all roofers are older than 50, whereas  22 per cent of the entire number of male regular full-time employees are older than 50.The average age of roofers is 37, i.e. five years below the average age of the entire social group of men in regular full-time jobs. Due to the high outflow rate at a young age, the roofing sector especially depends on recruiting young workers. Required adjustments to workload fluctuations are usually accomplished through alterations in the number of new employees, which results in fluctuations in the age structure from the bottom.

In recent years, the roofers have aged noticeably due to the lack of new, young employees. Therefore, the creation of working conditions appropriate for older employees may become an important issue for the roofing sector within a few years. If the age-related outflow rates remain at the current level, the number of roofers above the age of 50 will foreseeably double until 2020.





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