Employers 'positive' about older workers

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Most employers say they have positive attitudes to older workers, although they are more reluctant to recruit the over-50s and training seems to tail off for this group.

These are the headline findings of a qualitative study looking at how employers are responding to an ageing workforce carried out by the Centre for Research into the Older Workforce (CROW).

The study, Employer Responses to an Ageing Workforce, published by the Department of Work and Pensions, also found that many employers claim to prefer older workers to younger ones, because of their attitudes to work and their experience. Small firms were particularly likely to keep older people on after State Pension Age.

Professor Stephen McNair, director of CROW and co-author of the study, said: "Previous research has shown that a majority of workers over 50 would like to stay in work longer than they expect to do, but on a flexible or part-time basis. However, this study found that, because managers were keen to avoid complicated and potentially embarrassing conversations about retirement, and telling individuals that they are no longer required, many were avoiding discussions about flexible working and extending working life, and imposing a compulsory retirement age to avoid the risk of disputes. As a result, the talents of older people are being wasted, which is frustrating for them and a loss to the economy."

He added: "Most employers claimed not to discriminate on grounds of age when selecting staff for training, and in some sectors older workers were continuing to train. However, Government statistics show that most people are much less likely to train as they get older. CROW is currently carrying out further research to explore why this happens.”"

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