Ageism is holding back older workers as furlough finishes

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More than a third of people aged 50 to 70 feel at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because of their age. Yet an inter-generational workforce could boost the economy by 19 percent in the next three decades, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found. Latest labour market figures showed that 355,000 over-50s are currently unemployed, with 31,000 having been made redundant between May and July alone.

More than 360,000 over-55s were still on furlough at the end of July. Kim Chaplain, of the Centre for Ageing Better (CAB), which commissioned the research, said: “With the furlough scheme now over and many over-50s looking for work, it’s vital that employers are able to tap into the wealth of talent and experience that this workforce can bring.” The CAB, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and the Recruitment and Employment

Confederation want to see age as a “protected characteristic” alongside gender and ethnicity when employers hire staff. They set out guidelines to help firms remove age bias in job interviews.

Kate Shoesmith, of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: “Diversity of age is critical to creating an effective workforce, helping both older and younger workers to bounce back from the pandemic.”

Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, said: “To harness the skills and experience older workers possess, employers need to improve the way they recruit, train and retain older workers. Age discrimination impacts not only workers but their families and the broader economy.”

FRUSTRATING, soul-destroying and confidence-shattering

COMMENT by EMILY ANDREWS

People who struggle to get hired after the age of 50 tell us they experience a huge gamut of emotions.

And, while the psychological toll of constant rejections is hard enough, finding yourself 10 to 20 years away from retirement age with nobody wanting to hire you can be financially disastrous.

Today we are calling on employers to do more to tackle the ageism in our workplaces, starting with recruitment.

Nearly one in six (17 percent) of people aged 50 to 70 have been turned down for a job due to ageism.

Older workers have been hit hard by Covid – and post furlough many more will find themselves in the jobs market, having been made redundant.

Employers recognise the value of older workers, with three quarters saying in our survey that their experience is crucial to the success of their organisation.

Yet it seems outdated assumptions and stereotypes are still getting in the way.

In response, we have created a guide with the CIPD and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, to give practical suggestions to remove age bias.

If taken by employers, they will help to unlock the huge potential of this highly skilled, experienced and reliable part of our country’s workforce.

Emily Andrews is Deputy Director of Evidence of the Centre for Ageing Better charity

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