Ageism causing economic concerns

05-07-2005

The South West is facing economic problems because of employers who will not recruit or hold on to older workers, a skills programme has warned. Businesses are being asked to employ the resources of workers over 50 as part of new initiative called the Skills Analysis Programme.

It is being funded through the European Social Fund (ESF).

The ESF said it aimed to improve the employability of older workers and reduce long-term unemployment figures.

Population proportion

BBC South West business correspondent Neil Gallacher said: "Now there's a warning that the region's economy could be headed for trouble because the South West has a particular problem with so-called 'brain drain' - with the region's brightest youngsters leaving to find work elsewhere.

"There are employers locally who are happy to recruit and retain staff aged 50 or 60 and above, but they are relatively few and far between."

The ESF said that over the next 20 years people aged over 50 would form an increasing proportion of the entire country's population, accounting for one in three people by 2025.

It said that although employment rates among male workers aged between 50 and 64 had fallen from 95% about 50 years ago to about 65%, unemployment figures had not shown a corresponding change.

This meant the proportion of long-term unemployed was higher amongst older workers.

Mr Gallacher added that other factors could cause further problems in the region.

He said: "Another particular demographic pressure on this region is the high and growing population of retired and also of very elderly people who need workers to support them."

BBC News

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