This blog was contributed by Joanne Sawyer, Policy Adviser at Age UK
An ageing population, the end of forced retirement and a rising State Pension age, mean that there are now more older workers (those aged 50 or over) in the jobs market. This trend is projected to increase over the next decade – between 2012 and 2022 there will be an extra 3.7 million workers aged between 50 and State Pension age. Alongside this, given population changes, there will be fewer younger people entering work. Employers and recruiters consequently need to embrace the ageing demographic of the workforce.
Working life for the over 50s
However, although the overall increase in employment rates among older workers is welcome, it does not tell the full story of working life for the over 50s. Perceptions and stereotypes of older workers – usually negative – are still firmly held, and challenging these is vital for individuals, employers and society. They affect the way that older workers are treated when in work (e.g. in accessing training or promotion opportunities) and when out of work (e.g. long-term unemployment is a particular problem for the over 50s, with 44% of those who are unemployed having been out of work for over a year, compared to 32.0% for all 16-64 year olds). Ensuring that older workers are not forced out of the labour market, and providing appropriate support to those who find themselves unemployed, remains crucial if we are to avoid storing up social problems for the future.
A Best Practice Guide for Recruiters
Age UK believes that it is in everyone’s interests for people to be able to remain in work for as long as they desire and are capable of doing so, and that no-one should be disadvantaged because of their age. This is why we have partnered with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation to produce a best practice guide for recruiters.
- Understand the benefits of recruiting older workers and promote the business case for employing this age group to clients.
- Look beyond the stereotypes.
- Provide information, advice and training to recruitment staff to help them understand and overcome the barriers faced by older jobseekers.
- Be mindful of the language used in job adverts.
- Seek to use a diverse range of platforms to advertise jobs.
- Designate an internal advocate for older people.
- Forge links wherever possible with welfare-to-work providers and Jobcentre Plus.
We call on all recruiters and employers to look beyond an individual’s age and make best use of the available skills and expertise of all workers.