The Employment Minister, Esther McVey, has announced that the government will roll out a scheme across the UK from April 2015, in the bid to tackle age discrimination against older people, which can force them into higher levels of long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts. The aim of the scheme is to prevent this segments’ talents and experience from being wasted, and encourage more businesses to employ candidates over 50 for the added value they can bring.
As part of the scheme, intensive support will be provided to the over-50 jobseekers, through the provision of a ‘career review’ digital support folder to encourage this group to apply for online vacancies, in a world where this form of recruitment is becoming increasingly popular.
Recent employment trends of older workers are improving significantly, with more than 250,000 more people aged over 50 in work compared to a year ago. However, there is plenty of potential for this figure to increase in the near future. According to government statistics, at present, one-quarter of women and one in six men of state pension age have not worked since they were 55. Research shows that if the 1.2 million over-50s without work were supported to find jobs, it could add a further £50 billion to the economy. There has also been no evidence to suggest that employing older workers displaces younger people from the workforce. As a result, the government wants to encourage businesses to employ a larger portion of this work-ready segment.
Steve Esmond Says: Measures to alleviate the problem of long-term unemployment in the over 50s age group are welcome. However, their level of uptake and effectiveness are yet to be seen. In addition, if there is a change of government as a result of the impending general election, such measures may lose momentum or disappear from sight altogether.
We have an ageing workforce and the need for many people to work longer due to inadequacies of their pension provision and longer life expectancy. In this climate, it is important for employers to recognise the skills and experience that more mature workers can bring to their businesses and an increasing number are doing so. However, employers must take care not to discriminate against younger employees or job applicants by selecting their older counterparts ahead of them purely on age. Such decisions should still be based on objective factors such as qualifications, skills and experience.