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Move over grandad: Younger employees want their older colleagues out

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The Government may be encouraging older people to work longer, but Britain’s young adults want them off the agenda.

Research by ICM for older people's housing and care provider, Anchor, reveal 'ageist attitudes' are endemic in the workplace, with two-fifths (41%) of Britons aged 18-24 saying there aren't enough jobs for older people to be in work and 14% claiming older people should retire to make way for younger blood.

Despite the default retirement age of 65 ending this year, so far as young people are concerned you hit the old age mark when you reach 62.

One-fifth (21%) believe the over-60s are slower and are less productive than their junior counterparts, with one in 20 claiming they should be paid less because they work at a slower pace.

To tackle the misconceptions, Anchor is launching 'Grey Pride', a nationwide petition to 10 Downing Street calling for Britain to follow the lead of Ireland and Canada and have a minister for older people to champion the over-60s at the highest level.

And it seems the minister will have a generation gap to bridge outside as well as inside the workplace. The research reveals that many young Britons have stereotypical views of older people, with many calling over-60s 'grumpy' (18%) and out of touch with modern society (21%).

Even family ties aren't always enough to bind young and older relatives together - seven in 10 18-24-year-olds don't consider their older relations an important part of the family, with one in 10 saying they find it a chore to see their older relatives. Sadly, the starkest reflection of the generation divide is one in five saying they can never think of anything to say to their older relatives.

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor, said: "Casual ageism has no place in society and the negative perceptions bear no reality to the lives of the over-60s in England today who are active, energetic and contribute hugely to many of the most successful businesses and organisations in the country. The dismissive attitudes highlighted by Anchor's research towards the over 60s are a sad indictment of attitudes in England.

"Within the Government's equality agenda, there is a dedicated minister for women, the disabled and children, but none for older people, who represent nearly 25% of the population. Anchor's Grey Pride campaign will redress the balance, reclaim growing old as a positive experience and break down the barriers preventing older people leading happy, fulfilling lives."

The petition was launched today at bit.ly/AnchorMinister, and Anchor is calling on Britons to show their support for older people by securing 10,000 signatures by September 2011.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,011 adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 30 and 31 March 2011. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.