Ageism at work is a bigger problem for people in their late teens than their 50s, according to research from the Employers Forum on Age (EFA).
The EFA’s report, Age at Work, is based on a decade-by-decade analysis of people’s experiences, motivations and attitudes towards age and work.
It shows that it is a myth that age discrimination only affects the 50+ age group – 25% of school leavers have faced age discrimination compared to 21% of those over 50 and 18% of those over 60.
Young people are denied interesting and challenging jobs, which is why they move on frequently: it’s nothing to do with a lack of “loyalty”, the research shows.
Seventy per cent of those in their 20s believe a career path is important – the highest among all groups, yet only 25% are given interesting challenges and 21% claim what they do is boring.
The report also shows that people in their 50s and 60s are not all rushing to retire: 30% of people are happy to work until they are 70 and 13% dread retirement, a feeling that increases with age.
Although people in their 30s are at the “peak” of their career, they are under the most pressure at work and least want to be there. Just 54% of those in their 30s are happy with their work-life balance and just 17% are happy to work until they are 70 – the lowest numbers among all age groups.
Sam Mercer, director of the EFA, said: “This is a wake-up call for employers: we need to break the stereotype habit and be much more aware of people’s needs at different stages of their working lives.
“Employers must recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to management based on stereotypes is flawed. It would make much more sense to find ways to retain and motivate workers, and offer flexibility, training and development – irrespective of age.”