Senior businessman giving a piece of advice to younger colleagues.

When the new immigration rules come into force next January there’s going to be a big change in how companies view older employees.  At present, research shows that when employees reach the age of 50 they keep quiet about it.  They see their promotion prospects as nil compared to younger colleagues.   It’as also harder to get a new job after the age of 50.

But that is set to change. There is already a skills shortage in the UK with not enough younger people coming into the workforce.  From January, new immigration rules will see far fewer people allowed in for work, and the government says that employers will have to work harder at retaining and recruiting seniors with the skills they need.

The Centre for Ageing Better notes that we already have an older workforce and the qualities of older people are (slowly) being more recognised.  ‘When teams mix older and younger workers, productivity goes up and complex problems find more novel solutions because the strengths and weaknesses of both groups are balanced. (A biblical concept in action!)  Age-diversity helps solve complex problems by bringing together a mix of ideas, skill strengths, and experiences.   Older workers can draw on a lifetime of experience whilst younger workers may challenge outdated strategies and bring fresh perspective. Also, seniors’ greater life experience made them better placed to manage themselves and others in the workplace compared with younger colleagues.’[i]

There are five recommendations the Centre for Ageing Better makes, including minimising age bias in the recruitment process and encouraging career development at all ages.  That should be changed to, ‘encouraging career development with the prospect of promotion at all ages.’  The really big change that needs to come is stop seeing older people as ‘other’, as different… we’re tackling racism better than we used and it’s time to start on ageism, also.

There are many people in their 80s and 90s who have never stopped working.  They enjoy what they do and like the social aspect of work.  But most, from 55 onwards. choose to retire – with 25% regretting it, according to a recent study.

What would it take to persuade you to stay on instead of retiring?  Or what would entice you to go back to work?



Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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