8.3 million people in the UK workforce are aged between 50 and 65. Just like everyone else, they are suffering from high unemployment. What differentiates them is the difficulty they have re-entering the work force. UK Policy Exchange has released a report on the problem and it states: "it is startling to see that this [age] discrimination happens even though the UK has very clear laws designed to prevent it…and it suggests that there is a culture of bias against older workers.”
It’s time to start changing minds.
UK Policy Exchange's report found that of the over 50s currently unemployed, only 40% would be in work again within 12 months: this compares to 60% of under 25s. A lot of attention has been centered on the social impact of unemployment for 18-24 years olds but the issues surrounding unemployment in the over 50s are equally pressing. People over 50 face a bigger reduction in wages after 6 months of unemployment. This means they cannot meet the higher financial responsibilities this age group tends to have. This then has a knock-on effect on Britain’s growing inability to pay for its increasing population of pensioners.
Ultimately, the over 50s have a significant impact on the growth and sustenance of the economy, so age discrimination impacts everyone.
The report advocates "more positive messages regarding the value of older workers in the UK economy." Those over 50 have skills and experience that are vital to the UK economy. Any skills they lack they can learn as easily as those starting out in the job market. They understand long-term business strategies and technology-use in this age group is expanding rapidly. There is no reason for recruiters to fear the older job seeker.
Any candidate over 50 represents as much risk or potential as any other candidate. Recruiters need to focus on individuals, not labels, when assessing suitability for a role. UK Policy Exchange is right: it's time to talk more about the over 50s and start including them in the wider HR conversation.
Are you talking?