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Reviving Britain’s Economy Is Tough With an Aging Workforce

With the country in recession and Brexit shrinking the pool of labor, industries are calling on the government to retrain younger workers.

Construction workers lift a steel beam on a residential site in London.
Construction workers lift a steel beam on a residential site in London.Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The coronavirus pandemic is transforming workplaces across the world, with offices and factory floors adjusting to social-distancing rules. For metal pressing company Bruderer U.K., it’s underscored a weakness in the British economy that management has been grappling with for years.

About 60% of employees at the firm’s plant in Luton, southern England, is aged over 60, putting them statistically at higher risk of complications from Covid-19 than younger workers. Managing Director Adrian Haller said he’s been trying to train apprentices and hire fresh blood for years, but to little avail.