According to research by PwC between 2015 and2050the number of people aged 55 and above in OECD countries will grow by almost 50% to around 538 million.
Now living longer has to be a good thing but there is no hiding that a growing and aging population brings with it its fair share of problems and costs such as health and social care.
Plus, an aging population impacts on the landscape of our workforce, but surely there shouldn’t be a problem as an older workforce offers a great work ethic, life skills and experience that can only boost a business and the economy? Indeed, an Age UK study showed that older workers are as productive and willing to work as flexibly as their younger counterparts.
Any higher costs incurred with an aging workforce can be offset when they are encouraged and supported to remain in the workforce for longer and it would increase GDP, consumer spending power and tax revenues and could also help to improve the health and wellbeing of older people by keeping them mentally and physically active.
It all sounds simple, sadly however new research from Jobrapido, the world’s leading job search engine, shows age discrimination as the top obstacle for Brits when returning to work.
The job search engine surveyed 2,027 people in the UK who are currently not in education, employment or training for work and had previously worked in management, executive, administrative or manual labour positions.
Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) believe the biggest obstacle/reason to getting a new job is their age and that the role they apply for is given to a younger candidate instead.
Whilst 9% of the respondents stated that poor health had prevented them from getting a job, a further 11% admitted they can’t seem to find the right job to apply for, 11% revealed they keep going for interviews and not getting the job and 6% are still confused about the job they want.
One of the most worrying aspects is that nearly a third (30%) said that they have lost their confidence and do not feel like they can get a job anymore.
When asked what could help to change their circumstances:
more than a fifth (21%) of respondents believe that they need more guidance about what job would be relevant for them.
18% would like advice about how to improve their interview technique or embark on careers counselling so they feel more confident about getting their next job.
17% would like advice on how to improve their CV.
14% would like better feedback after their interview so they can learn from their mistakes
As a result, the survey results have triggered a call of action for the recruitment industry, business owners and HR professionals to offer the support necessary to help more older people get work through offering careers counselling, advice on CVs, interview technique and feedback after interviews.
According to MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee, who put together a report on older people and employment, one of the suggestions put forward to increase recruitment of over 50s is to give recruitment agencies greater responsibility for collecting data on where older workers are being excluded and developing a plan of action to remove discrimination from the hiring process.
However, Head of Employment Law at Royds Withy King, Richard Woodman, said the proposal was “unusual”.
“Recruitment agencies, like all employers, need to operate within the current laws, and we do not believe they are best placed or indeed the right businesses to police workplace discrimination,” Woodman said.
“If the committee wished to see meaningful change it would be better to perhaps call on the Government to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement for businesses over a certain size, as it has done with gender pay gap reporting.”
However, Maria Miller, MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities committee believes that there is an issue when it comes to hiring.
“As a country we face serious challenges recruiting and retaining an experienced and skilled workforce."
“Until we tackle discrimination against the growing number of over 50s, they will continue to be consigned to the ‘too old’ pile instead of being part of the solution,” she said.