Employment over 60 - older workers struggling to secure new roles

Posted on: 15 November 2012 by Lynda Shaw

People over 60 feel age rather than skills and experience is how prospective employers choose new staff.

employment opportunity after 60Should we continue working beyond traditional retirement age? Are we wanted in the workplace as we grow older? Are we doing a disservice to the young by staying employed?  Companies and corporations have one agenda; politicians have another, the general public something else. 

Detailed research conducted earlier this year across a wide range of age groups found both predictable and surprising results.

Attitudes in the workplace

33% considered the 60s and beyond to be the most loyal. 53% thought they were the least ambitious and 70% thought that the over 60s would be intimidated by advanced technology in the work place, with 61% believing that they are slower to learn new skills and therefore the least likely to be hired.

Such a very frustrating stereotypical attitude. It is true that as we grow older we might be slower to learn, but what is incredibly underestimated is that we are eager to learn new things and develop no matter what our age. If employers spent some training time on older as well as younger cohorts they would reap a greater return for their investment, especially as the older generation is more likely to be loyal and not go off to a competitor with their new found skills.

Mature job seeking

Attitudes towards more senior people in the workplace is reflected in ageist behaviour towards hiring workers. 66% of respondents believed that ageing alone, regardless of qualifications and experience, could be a barrier for getting a job. Having interviewed many people over 60 who are looking for work, they would agree wholeheartedly that their age is a problem to even get an interview. What a great shame that people are judged worthy or unworthy by a number and not by the level of contribution they can bring to a company.  This applies to all age groups. 

The over 60s are bursting with knowledge and experience. This needs to be embraced, enhanced and utilised. Businesses can benefit enormously from an age-diverse workplace, mixing new ideas and knowledge of younger workers with the experience and expertise of older workers.

Ageing generally

When asked what people fear the most as they grow older, our results revealed that loss of memory was top of the list (62%). Loss of mobility was ranked second, with loss of income third. With dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease on the increase this is hardly surprising and the more we can do to help ourselves stay healthy, together with supporting research to find out the underlying causes of this growing problem, the better off we will all be.

With this in mind, the last statistic opens the floodgates for energetic debate. 86% of respondents said they did not expect to be looked after by relatives when they grow older.

This is an amazingly positive comment to report. Does this mean that we have every intention to age as healthily and independently as possible? Or does this mean that we prefer to be looked after in a care home or sheltered accommodation?  If the former is correct, then we need to be highly proactive in our health and well-being. This is an exciting prospect. If the latter is more accurate, then we need to shake up the system and introduce a stimulating, fun environment for us all to enjoy. We need new and innovative ideas. Let the debates continue and grow. There is so much to do. 

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