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Category: Industry News
When we speak about diversity in the workplace, age is something that can often feel like it’s left on the back-burner compared to other diversity strands such as disability, LGBT, gender, race etc. However, ageism is something that needs to be addressed, particularly in the workplace today. Ageism is when someone is discriminated against due to their age. This is particularly common amongst over 50’s, who can often struggle to find and secure job roles and climb the ladder when they have been employed.
The problem that many over 50s face
Business in the Community (BITC) say that around one million British people between the ages of 50 and 64 are ‘involuntarily workless’, a figure that highlights just how significant this issue is and the need to ensure that there are fair employment chances for those over the age of 50. There are many benefits of hiring older workers, for example they often have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on in order to positively benefit the business and the teams that they are working within.
It can be a common misconception that many over the age of 50 are already in secure, long-term employment, however, there are a number of reasons as to why someone over the age of 50 might find themselves unemployed. For instance, they may have had to leave a previous job due to illness or caring responsibilities, or they may have decided to have a career change later on in life.
This is not to say that younger employees do not have the potential to bring a wealth of benefits to a business, it is instead about understanding the benefits of a diverse workforce. A varied group of people will have different ideas and opinions that can help to contribute to business ideas and decisions as well as ensure that businesses are representative of the communities that they serve.
What can employers do?
In order to combat ageism in the workplace, employers must first realise the potential that older employees have and put practices in place to actively encourage and support over 50s, who are both looking for roles within the organisation and those who are currently working within the business.
According to BITC, only 11% of over 60s received in-work training in 2016, compared to 27-30% of under 50s. This shows the lack of commitment that many employers have when it comes to investing in an older workforce. Is this because they don’t think that their investment is worthwhile due to the likelihood of an individual retiring? Many older employees are likely to stay committed to an organisation if they feel that they are being supported, through initiatives such as training programmes. In a report published by the Department of Work and Pensions it was said that “Older workers can often be overlooked when it comes to new training opportunities. Someone in their early 50s, however, can potentially stay with their employer for 15 to 20 years or longer”.
In addition to training and development in the workplace, it can also be important for organisations to offer their employees the flexibility that they may require in later-life due to responsibilities that they may not have previously had, such as caring for elderly parents or relatives. As a society that is living longer, these are all things that businesses must consider if they are going to reap the benefits that having multiple generations within the workforce can bring to both employer and employee.
It is often assumed that those in their 50s and 60s want to retire soon, however, there is no longer a mandatory age requirement and many are choosing to stay-on at work for even longer. In fact, many over 50s are thinking of planning their career and even making a change within their career, rather than retirement. For many, work is more than just a way to pay the bills, it gives a sense of purpose and community and many older people decide to continue working in order to keep a hold of this sense of community even after they have passed ‘retirement age’. If employers are able to make their workplace one where their employees want to be, they can benefit from a long, committed relationship with them.
The potential of over 50s in the workplace
Many employers are already realising the potential benefits that older employees can bring to their business. For example, a Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said that apprenticeships “work for people of all ages and backgrounds and can transform lives” adding: “We are committed to making sure that apprenticeships are as accessible as possible, to all people, from all backgrounds.”
Barclays is just one of the employers who has placed a focus on ensuring they offer fair opportunities for all jobseekers, regardless of age; they run an apprenticeship scheme for older people who are searching for a job as they believe in the benefit that retraining can bring to both themselves and the employee. Barclays have said that 'When it comes to your potential, age just isn't a factor for us. There's no upper limit on any of our opportunities, whether you're 55 or 85.'
If you are over the age of 50 and looking for a job, please click here to use our job search function, where you are able to search by companies who offer their employees age initiatives.
These include things such as over 50s network and support groups, mentoring and shared learning schemes, development schemes, initiatives for over 50s, graduate schemes for graduates of all ages, associations with organisations who support ‘Age Positivity’, for example The Age and Employment Network, flexible working and talent development schemes. These are just a selection of the ways that businesses can support those over the age of 50 through both the recruitment and employment process.
Are you interested in a career with Department for Education? Please click here.
Vercida works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with Vercida to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.
We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.