Employers called on to combat ageism

Currently, one million older people who are not in work want to work, and if just half of them were to move into employment, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would increase by up to £88 billion a year. The decision to work until the day they no longer can is almost always not in the older workers’ hands, but in those of their employers.

The Business in the Community’s Age at Work Leadership Team have called on employers across the UK to do more to retain and recruit older workers. Enabling older people to stay in work could bring many benefits to individuals, businesses, and to the UK economy.

So, what benefits can an experienced employer bring to the table? The older employee can often provide help, and become a role model for younger colleagues and older customers. As well as extending the company’s talent pool, older staff create a diverse and multi-generational workforce with better understanding of their customers.

Steven Cooper, CEO of Personal Banking at Barclays, said: “We care about multi-generational workforces because it matter to us to have a workforce that reflects our customers and broad range of life experience. Our Bolder Apprenticeships programme finds new opportunities for people who might have thought their careers were over.”

With increased longevity and improved health, ageing is becoming less and less synonymous with dependency. There seems to be an institutionalised idea that employees must retire at a certain age, however if people want to and are able to work longer, should society discourage them from doing so?

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre of Ageing Better, said: “We want to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have control over where, when and how they work in later life. Age friendly employers that support people to stay in work who want to is key to helping people achieve a good later life.”

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