Two-thirds of over-50s expect to encounter ageism in recruitment processes, according to research that identifies the barriers older workers face when looking for work.
A study into the experiences of more than 4,000 over-50s from across the UK found that 70% felt it was difficult to start a new career over the age of 50, while 65% felt their age “works against them” when applying for new jobs.
One in five had been overlooked for a promotion due to their age, while three in 10 retirees felt they had no choice but to retire, according the research by age diversity advocate group 55/Redefined and recruitment firm Reed Talent Solutions.
Despite this perceived ageism in recruitment, 60% of older workers were open to reskilling in order to start a new career. This extended to a quarter of retired respondents, who said they would consider reskilling to re-enter the workforce.
The majority (89%) of over 55s would be prepared to take a pay cut to retrain in a new role or industry.
55/Redefined has called for “unretirement” to be established as a new work phase, where older workers feel able to leave and re-enter the workplace.
CEO Lyndsey Simpson said: “The relationship between the over-50s and work is broken. While progress has been made across other diversity and inclusion measures, age is falling by the wayside and it’s not just morally wrong, but fiscally irresponsible.
“In a struggling economy, awash with job vacancies, the over-50s could solve the UK’s talent problems, but action needs to be taken.
“Employers must do deep work to improve their age diversity to mirror the positive change we’ve seen across gender or any other characteristic. Actively looking to attract and retain over-50s – including welcoming the notion of unretirement, giving the over-50s the choice to remain, leave and re-enter the workplace – is key.”
Reed Talent Solutions managing director Lee Gudgeon said older workers should be encouraged to be active on LinkedIn and job boards so they can engage with job opportunities.
“The challenge is now on companies and recruiters to develop an employee value proposition which is wholly inclusive. Better training for older workers, more flexible working options, mid-life MoTs, and an inclusive environment mean workers will stay longer, learn new skills, and remain motivated and at the top of their game,” he said.
‘The unretirement uprising’ report also finds that:
- four in five over 50s have not been contacted by a recruiter in the past 12 months
- 47% want flexibility from an employer
- 32% work for a sense of fulfilment and purpose
- 21% would select an employer based on its age policy.