Why you should be recruiting older people

As skills shortages hit businesses, employers must be ready to utilise as broad a pool of labour as possible. Against this backdrop, are we overlooking older talent?

Following a fall in net migration from the EU, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has revealed that 40 per cent of employers are having more problems filling vacancies than they did last year.

More than ever, businesses must consider as diverse a pool of labour as possible. And while diversity on the gender and race front is well documented, diversity of age has been somewhat left in the shadows. Are we to discount older recruits just because we assume the world has passed them by?

Today’s entrepreneurial scene may conjure up images of young techies building empires from reams of code.

But in reality, the most common age of a UK business owner, according to Companies House, is 51. By nature of their age, these people have built reserves of nous and expertise, crucial to navigating the extremes of business decisionmaking. And contemporaries they hire are no different.

It’s a counterpoint to the perception that at a certain age, older people are no longer fit for the job. But not only do older employees so frequently have the adroitness to carry out and implement a vision to make a business a success, they often have the wherewithal to overcome inevitable stumbling blocks.

Even where businesses are fronted by younger people, there is a big difference between creating an early vision and getting it off the ground, and building the technical structure and team to scale it up.

Older workers can also bring specific industry skills which younger employees just do not have yet. Take technology, a hotbed of start-up activity. While mobile and social have taken off massively in recent years, the coding languages that underpin them are longer standing; they can often be the preserve of the more experienced.

Are older employees also easier to manage? Contrary to the demands of the millennial generation – hours that suit them, wellbeing programmes, free food – isn’t there something to be said for the more seasoned worker who turns up on time and puts in an old-fashioned, hardworking shift?

You only have to look at the likes of Google and Apple to see that the most innovative and effective start-ups are those that harness the energy of the new guard, but also the experience of the old. So when the greyer but more seasoned CVs roll in, ignore them at your peril.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk and GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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