Wake-up call to firms as ageism cost soars

The failure to tackle ageism is costing the UK economy £31bn a year,
according to a report commissioned by the Employers Forum on Age last week.

The report, Ageism Too Costly to Ignore, found that the cost of ageism has
risen by £5bn since 1998.

Ray
Baker, chair of the EFA and B&Q’s employment and diversity controller,
warns that the report sounded a clear wake-up call for employers and the
government.

He said, "This is another reason to ensure that ageism isn’t
over-looked by employers."

The report reveals that in the past two years the number of people aged
50-64 who are not in work and are not seeking work has grown by 125,000.

The EFA is urging the Government to introduce a flexible retirement policy
as pension regulations prevent workers older than 65 drawing a pension and a
salary at the same time.

The report claims that by introducing flexible retirement policies, GDP
could be raised by at least £50bn a year.

Baker added, "It’s vital that we have flexible retirement policies in
place to allow people to continue working well past 65. Many older workers need
employment because of financial necessity. A report of our older workers in the
early 1990s found that 56 per cent still had dependents."

Other recommendations in the report include raising employers’ awareness of
the business benefits of older workers and the need for the Government to play
a part in increasing the employability of these workers by investing in their
skills.

"Lifelong learning must be part of the business agenda," said
Baker.

By 2025 for every two people employed there is likely to be one person older
than 50 who is either retired or inactive.

By Karen Higginbottom

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