Older workers lose jobs as recession bites

The number of unemployed older workers has risen sharply during the recession, figures published today have revealed.

A survey by The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) found that between October 2008 and May 2009 47% of respondents had been made redunant, whereas just 32% of respondents had lost their jobs between January and September 2008.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of jobseekers taking part in the online survey said employers saw them as too old, compared with 63% before the recession.

The data was collected from 401 responses to an online survey in the second period, and 370 responses in the first. Seven in 10 of the respondents were aged 50-59; 27% were 60-64; and 9% were over 65.

Chris Ball, chief executive of TAEN, said: “These shocking figures show the greater barriers the over-50s are facing as the economy has worsened. The resultant crisis in savings, pensions and debt has taken its toll and created a need for many older people to keep on working.”

Nearly half (45%) of respondents did not feel that age discrimination legislation had helped older people to find work, compared to 31% before the recession.

The number respondents who warned that employers place too much emphasis on qualifications rather than skills and experience also rose slightly, from 60% to 64%.

Ball added: “We also see here more evidence that, despite the introduction of legislation in 2006 outlawing age discrimination in employment, it has certainly not eradicated discrimination in recruitment – particularly when times are tight and where it is difficult for an individual to prove discrimination and take action.”

Personnel Today is supporting a campaign by the Employers Forum on Age calling on the government to commit to removing the Default Retirement Age in 2011, rather than simply reviewing it. Register your support for our campaign by signing the petition on the Number 10 website.

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