How employers can benefit from employing older workers

The employment of more senior employees has recently come under scrutiny with data revealing that less and less people belonging to the older generation are not being considered for working position.

According to a recently published table, the proportion of 50 to 64-year-olds in employment in Liverpool is 55.7%, ranking it a lowly 362nd out of the 378 local authority areas in the study.

All of Merseyside’s other local authority areas also appear in the bottom third of the table published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Older workers in St Helens and Knowsley don’t fare much better than Liverpool, with only 57.7% and 58.6% respectively in work. Wirral’s rate is 63.3% with Halton’s just behind at 63.1%, while even Sefton, Merseyside’s best performing local authority, has a rate of just 66%, placing it 241st, just above the bottom third of the table.

It appears that employers are over-looking the benefits of hiring from an older age category, such as the 2.9 million people aged between 50 and state pension age who are finding themselves unemployed, long before they have reached the age where they can access their pensions. It seems that the older generation remains an untapped resource companies have yet to take real advantage of. It is also believed that hiring from a higher age bracket will actually yield more jobs in future as there are a growing number of job vacancies which need to be filled.

Instead employers are hiding behind tired and outdated stereotypes, that older workers are not tech savvy or the belief that jobs should be reserved for the young, out of an ominously accepted sense of entitlement.

According to Chris Ball, chief executive of The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), factors that could contribute to the city region’s poor performance include old fashioned attitudes that cause some employers to think older people have poor IT skills and are less adaptable. Mr Ball used his own experience as an older man still in work in an attempt to diffuse these unjust attitudes saying:

“I didn’t learn to type till I was 50, now I type at 40 odd words a minute and use all sorts of software programmes. Old dogs can learn new tricks.”

Mr Ball’s insistence on the validity of older workers goes to the heart of The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) for which he is Chief executive and his group seeks to challenge these hurtful stereotypes and help get older unemployed people back in to work.

The benefits of working during your twilight years also extends to the employees themselves as it has been said that working one more year before retirement can expand an employee’s pension pot by £4500 with an additional year’s salary.

Ultimately employers are only halting progress with discriminatory and ageist attitudes to employment. Recruitment should draw from a wide variety of age groups in order to yield valuable knowledge and develop new ideas.

Dr Ros Altman the newly appointed champion of the elderly in employment has said:

“We need to get rid of the traditional stereotype which suggests that people over 50 are too old to learn or change and are expected not to work, even if they want to. There can be a world of opportunities for older workers which can enrich their lives and also boost our economy.”

Words: Daniel Pearce

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