Union claims older workers face scrapheap

17-08-2006

More than a million older workers are unable to get a job because employers refuse to invest in training or make minor adjustments for disabilities, a new report has claimed.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says that unemployed people aged between 50 and 65 want to work, but states that employers are accelerating the "demographic time bomb" of an ageing British workforce by failing to recruit older staff.

The TUC claims that by 2016, the number of people aged under-50-years-old will fall by two per cent, while the number aged between 50 and 69 will rise by 17 per cent.

But its study found that only one in eight of those aged between 50 and 65 who were not working had taken early retirement, with many forced to survive on state benefits until they reached the state pension age due to the reluctance of employers to take them on.

The TUC said UK recruiters should carry out age audits of their staff in order to help eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers by identifying their training needs.

Urging the need for action, the union's deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Most baby boomers are not retiring early to cruise around the world or go bungee jumping. They have been dumped out of work and on to the scrapheap and are scraping by on benefits or small work pensions.

"By refusing to retain and recruit older staff, who want to work, employers are accelerating the demographic time bomb the economy is resting on."

"Companies need to ditch tired stereotypes of 50 to 60-year-olds and develop age management policies, which capitalise on the value of experienced staff by offering retraining and flexible working, and making minor changes for people with disabilities," she added.

But the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) stressed that UK employers were doing their best to recruit and retain older staff.

"Evidence suggests that older people do find it hard to find a job and this is mainly because they have lower skills levels," said Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at the lobby group.

"However, employers are aware of the advantages which older people offer, especially their attitude to work and their customer service skills, so where possible they will do all they can to hire and retain them," she added.


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