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New bid to fight age discrimination in jobs market

Published on 05 June 2015 11:01 PM

Age UK is partnering with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) to launch a best practice protocol that aims to fight age discrimination in recruitment and give older people a better chance of finding work.

With four out of 10 unemployed older workers out of work for more than a year, the guide sets out a series of recommendations intended to ensure older jobseekers are not overlooked during the recruitment process.

The UK's workforce is ageing: between 2012 and 2022, there will be an additional 3.7 million people aged between 50 and State Pension age. This alongside the trend of increasing numbers of people working beyond State Pension age means there will be much more older workers active in the UK.

Although there are existing laws against age discrimination, age can still be a consideration during the recruitment process with some employers still requesting a maximum age for candidates and using negative stereotypes of older workers to make hiring decisions.

The guide shows how recruiters can help employers look beyond stereotypes and explains that there are no reasons for older workers to be less productive than their younger counterparts.

It asks recruiters to designate an internal advocate for older people who can defend their skills and experience to business and cautions against potentially discriminatory language in job adverts - words like ‘energetic' or ‘vibrant' can be interpreted as code for younger workers.

It also calls on the industry to use a range of platforms when advertising jobs so that some older people who do not use social media are not excluded from opportunities.

The REC will send the guide to its more than 3,300 members and distribute it through the organisation's membership engagement programme.

Pensions Minister backs bid to fight age discrimination

Ros Altmann, Minister for Pensions, says: ‘I am delighted to see the recruitment industry helping its members to better overcome age discriminatory practices.

‘It is in the interests of both employers and the economy to ensure older job applicants are not overlooked, as they have a wealth of experience and valuable skills that benefit businesses. Ensuring mature applicants are considered on their merits rather than written off is vital, especially in our ageing population.

‘People are not "old" n their 50s and 60s, nor indeed necessarily at ages beyond that either. I hope employers will remain open-minded to recruiting and training older staff, as well as considering flexible working.'

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, says: ‘Too many skilled and massively experienced older workers are being written off simply because they are incorrectly considered to be past their prime. It is a terrible waste of so much talent which could be an enormous boon to business and the UK economy.

‘We are living longer with many of us in better health than ever before so it's not surprising that more of us want to continue to work in fulfilling roles for as long as we want and feel able to.

‘I hope this new code of conduct will mean we stamp out age discrimination in the recruitment process once and for all so that those who want to work are given a fair chance in the jobs market.'

The latest figures from REC's job survey show that 98% of employers say they have no extra capacity in their workforce and will need to take on more employees if they are to take on more work. 62% say they plan to hire more permanent workers in the next 3 months and 97% say they will maintain or increase the use of flexible or temporary workers over the next quarter to tackle skills shortages.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation says: ‘There is an enormous skills crisis looming. The UK is suffering from skills shortages across the economy and at the same time businesses say they can't take on more work without more staff.

‘Older workers have a huge amount of experience, skill and knowledge to offer organisations. To encourage older people to stay in the labour market employers need to be more effective at attracting and retaining older workers. That's why we are so passionate about working with Age UK on this important initiative.

‘Simple things like changes to the language used in job descriptions and where roles are advertised could be significant. We want hirers to work alongside specialist recruiters who understand the benefits that older workers can bring, and who can help tailor job roles to meet their needs. Together we can rid the labour market of outdated prejudice and create a fairer and more productive economy.' 

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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