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New bid to fight age discrimination in jobs market

Published on 06 June 2015 12:01 AM

Pensions Minister backs Age UK and recruitment industry's new bid to fight age discrimination in jobs market

With four in ten unemployed older workers out of work for more than a year(1), Age UK and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) are launching a best practice protocol which aims to end age discrimination in recruitment and to give older people a better chance of finding work.

The guide sets out a series of recommendations which are intended to ensure older jobseekers are not overlooked during the recruitment process and are given the best opportunity to find work. It will be sent to each of REC's more than 3,300 members and promoted through its membership engagement programme.

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

The ‘Age Opportunity' best practice guide calls on recruiters to commit to promoting the strong business case for hiring older workers and help their clients, employers, appreciate the many benefits that experienced and skilled workers can bring to organisations.

Notwithstanding the existing law against age discrimination, age can still be a consideration during the recruitment process. Some employers still request a maximum age for candidates and use negative stereotypes of older workers to make hiring decisions.

Minister for Pensions, Ros Altmann 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' in their fifties and sixties, 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."

The new guide:

  • explains how recruiters can help employers look beyond stereotypes and that there are no reasons for older workers to be less productive than their younger counterparts
  • asks recruiters to designate an internal advocate for older people who can defend their skills and experience to businesses
  • cautions against potentially discriminatory language in job adverts (words like 'energetic' or 'vibrant' which can be interpreted as code for younger workers).
  • calls on the industry to use a range of platforms to advertise jobs so that some older people who do not use social media are not excluded from opportunities.

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(2) show that 98 per cent 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 per cent say they plan to hire more permanent workers in the next 3 months and 97 per cent 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.'

For full details of the Age Opportunity Best Practice Guide please contact Mallary Gelb at Age UK on 0203 033 1682 or 07 071 243243 out of hours or Kate Shoesmith at REC on kate.shoesmith@rec.uk.com on 07545 205153 or Liz Banks at REC on 077 20593397.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  1. Labour Force Survey, May 2015
  2. Age UK, Productivity and Age (March 2014)

1. For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 0207 009 2157/2192 or pressoffice@rec.uk.com. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 0207 021 0584.

2. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) is the professional body for the recruitment industry. The REC represents 3,349 corporate members who have branches across all regions of the UK. In addition, the REC represents 5,759 individual members within the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP). All members must abide by a code of professional practice. Above all, the REC is committed to raising standards and highlighting excellence throughout the industry. Find out more on www.rec.uk.com.

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Age UK

For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

About Age UK: Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to well over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we"). Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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