Age discrimination warning for growing numbers of older workers

More older workers are likely to find an “invisible wall” of ageism between them and a new job, resulting in greater numbers being stuck in long-term unemployment, charity Age UK has warned.

Figures published by the Department of Communities and Local Government as part of the Citizenship Survey: 2009-10 show ageism is still the biggest single reason for discrimination in recruitment. Four per cent of all workers aged 50 and over – estimated to be in excess of 300,000 – say they have been refused a job because of their age in the past five years.

These findings come as the number of older workers looking for a job is set to rise as a result of shifting incapacity benefit claimants onto employment support allowance. Age UK has estimated that this move could lead to more than 750,000 older workers returning to the job market within the next four years.

Unemployment figures published earlier this month revealed that two in five unemployed workers aged 50 or over have been out of work for more than a year – the highest incidence of long-term unemployment among any age group.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK director, said: “The spreading perception of ageism in recruitment shows that, for older workers, the job market is still not fit for purpose.

“As more mature workers are pushed into the recruitment arena by the reassessment of welfare-to-work benefits, hundreds of thousands of them will risk coming up against the invisible wall of ageism.”

Chris Ball, chief executive of TAEN – The Age and Employment Network, added: “Given that the coalition Government has committed to speeding up the rise in the state pension age, working longer will become a necessity for more and more people.

“Employers of all shapes and sizes need to urgently wake up to the fact that people will need to work longer and make sure that their recruitment policies are fair. Extending working lives will not succeed without this overdue shift in culture.”

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