Older workers face ‘outdated stereotypes’ throughout hiring processes

Businesses encouraged to look closely at recruitment or miss out on valuable knowledge and experience.

Older workers looking for work are often alienated by outdated hiring practices, according to employment minister Esther McVey.

McVey was commenting on a Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) report in which one-third of employers admit they should be doing more to provide opportunities for older workers.

The survey of 200 UK employers also suggests that 37% cite advertising as a hurdle to attracting workers over 55-years-old.

One in five employers said that the language used in recruitment campaigns should be inclusive for all age groups – while 17% said that organisations should look beyond solely advertising online to ensure candidates of all generations are reached.

McVey commented that more and more older workers are now looking for a new challenge in employment – and that “they have a hugely valuable contribution to make to any workforce.”

“Despite the recent impressive trends in those over 50 getting back into work, older workers still in many cases face outdated stereotypes when it comes to business hiring practices,” she said.

“Not only is this a waste of valuable talent and ‘life skills’, but it’s a missed opportunity for businesses to make their most of their experience to support younger colleagues develop their careers.”

DWP business champion for older workers Dr Ros Altmann added that it is vital for the economy that people living longer and wanting to work are given the opportunity to do so.

“Businesses need to act now in order to benefit from the extensive skills and experience that older workers bring. It is important not to rule out older applicants when recruiting new talent,” she said.

“In March I will publish evidence of the business case for retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers. As today’s survey shows, ongoing training and ensuring all workers have up-to-date skills will also be vital to make sure older people are not overlooked in the recruitment process.”

Finally REC chief executive Kevin Green suggested focusing on older workers could be one way to address the UK’s burgeoning skills crisis.

“Simple changes to the language used in job descriptions and the way jobs are advertised could be significant,” he said. “We encourage 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.”

Further reading on recruitment: Top 5 recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them

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