BT bucks trend as young are hit by ageism at work

Telecoms giant BT is expanding its apprenticeship scheme, part of its continuing efforts to tempt high-calibre young employees into the company.

The move, which will see the recruitment of 550 new apprentices, comes as a report suggests that companies risk losing out if they fail to realise the potential of their younger employees.

Ageism at work is a bigger problem for younger people than it is for older employees, according to a survey of 1,600 UK workers by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA).

Some 25% of school leavers have faced age discrimination compared with 18% of those over 60, it said.

BT, which has 530 existing apprentices in sectors that include engineering, IT, call centres, business and vehicle maintenance, believes engaging young employees has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Jim Wilson, head of apprenticeships at BT, told Personnel Today: “It pays dividends in a number of ways, enabling us to attract a high calibre of young person.”

BT’s focus on young employees contrasts with the findings of the EFA study, which shows that only 25% are given interesting challenges, while 21% claim that what they do is boring.

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 the fact that people have different needs at different stages of their working lives.”

Mercer said it was clear that people of all ages did not always feel well managed or supported in their jobs.


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