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Equality and Human Rights Commission boss urges firms to hold on to older staff

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Employers who retain older workers have been told they will be better placed to emerge from the recession.

Speaking at the Age Diversity in the Downturn Conference organised by The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "We already have more people in the UK over the state pension age than under 16 and, within 15 years, a third of the workforce will be over 50. Embracing the skills of older workers should be a top priority - unless we are prepared to miss out on a third of the available talent pool.

"But older people still face incorrect and stereotyped assumptions about their attitudes and abilities. They are forced into retirement, or selected for redundancy; if this happens, they spend longer out of work. This is damaging for them as individuals, but it is also dangerous for the economy."

She warned: "We cannot afford for the talent, skills and experience of older workers to be lost. If this happens, British business will be less well-placed to capitalise on the recovery when it comes."