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Ageism blocking benefits of an intergenerational workforce

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A wave of over 50s made redundant at the end of the furlough scheme might see themselves locked out of work by ageism in the recruitment process, the Centre for Ageing Better has warned.

More than a third (36%) of 50-70 year-olds said they felt at a disadvantage when applying for jobs because of their age.

Employers agreed, with 76% arguing older workers’ experience was crucial to the success of the organisation, yet none of the employers interviewed by Ageing Better had a strategy in place to improve the age diversity of their workplace.


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Kim Chaplain, associate director for work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “With the furlough scheme over, and many over 50s looking for work, it’s vital that employers are able to tap into the wealth of talent and experience that this workforce can bring.

“However too many over 50s are locked out of work by age-bias in the recruitment process – and not enough employers have processes in place to make their hiring process as inclusive as possible."

Employers are missing out, according to related findings by the OECD.

Increased age diversity in the workforce could boost GDP by 19% in the next 30 years. 

Ageing Better, in conjunction with the CIPD and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, has released a guide for employers on how to become more age-inclusive.

The five key actions proposed by the guide are: 

  • Put age into equality, diversity and inclusion efforts
  • Know your numbers
  • Debias your job adverts 
  • Check your process
  • Build awareness and confidence

Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: "Now more than ever diversity of age is critical to creating an effective workforce, helping both older and younger workers, companies and the UK economy to bounce back from the pandemic and build a stronger future." 

Around 355,000 people over 50 are unemployed, with 31,000 having been made redundant between May and July alone. 

Another 360,000 were still on furlough at the end of July, prompting fears of another wave of redundancies following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

“Employers and recruiters need to be proactive in building an age diverse workforce to benefit their own businesses, their clients and their employees,” Shoesmith added.

“Ageism in the workplace can be overlooked but it is important that we focus on it given the demographic changes in our society.”