Age discrimination is still rife, says think tank

More people aged 50-65 are in employment than ever before, but if they lose their job they discover the recruitment process works against them, according to a report by think tank Policy Exchange.

Too Much to Lose: Understanding and Supporting Britain’s Older Workers reveals that someone over 50 who is unemployed is much less likely to find work over the next year.

While the number of people aged over 50 has increased over the past 20 years – with older workers playing a significant role in the economy – they face a tougher time than other age groups in finding a new job if they’re out of work.

The research found that by the end of 2011, 189,000 over-50s who were unemployed (43%) had been out of work for a year or more, compared with 26% of unemployed people aged 18-24 and 35% aged 25-49.

The think tank carried out a test to discover the scale of age discrimination in recruitment processes. It applied for 1,200 PA jobs as an older and younger worker, with CVs that were identical apart from the date of birth. The results were that the 51-year-old received less than half as many positive responses as the 25-year-old.

Report author Matthew Tinsley said: “It is startling to see that this discrimination happens even though the UK has very clear laws designed to prevent it (primarily the Equalities Act 2010) and it suggests that there is a culture of bias against older workers.”

He added that more needs to be done to address this culture and provide more support for older workers. “There are more than 8 million people aged 50 or over in the UK workforce. The skills and experience that older workers offer employers is vitally important to businesses and the economy as a whole. Greater levels of support must be put in place to help unemployed older workers back into the labour market, and to support individuals’ opportunities later in life,” he said.

If you are affected by discrimination issues, ring Deborah Frances, Head of Employment at Lawspeed for expert legal support.

By Karen Dempsey


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