British companies are paying increasing attention to recruiting workers aged
over 50. They start from a relatively weak record in comparison with other
countries in the European Union, but have been making strong efforts to catch
For the past six or seven years, there has been a considerable shift in
employers’ attitudes to using the experience and skills of older workers.
This is partly because employers have increasingly come to value the
reliability, accumulated experience, maturity and people skills of older
workers and partly out of necessity because the supply of younger workers is
Cranet shows that 10% of organisations in Britain now specifically target
workers aged over 50 compared with 6% of organisations in other EU countries.
In the UK, 12. 6% of private employers are actively targeting older workers,
compared to 4.2% of public sector employers.
Across the EU, a similar pattern is apparent, with 6.7% of private employers
targeting older workers compared to 3.6% of their public counterparts. This
difference may reflect the reality that the public sector already contains a
relatively high proportion of older workers.
The Government has led the way in championing the cause of older workers but
the figures give it further food for thought.
Its New Deal 50+ has been a considerable success. By May 2001, just under
40,000 people returned to work under the scheme, easing skills shortages in
parts of the labour market. Yet, there is still a good deal of age discrimination
The proportion of employees over 50 still remains marginally lower in the UK
than the EU.