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Age of Opportunity: Recruiting and retaining older workers

 By Joanne Sawyer, Policy Adviser, 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.

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.

Age UK believes that it is in everyones 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 BestPractice Guide for recruiters.  We call on employers and recruiters to look beyond an individuals age to ensure that they make best use of the available skills and expertise of all workers.


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