My next move: age discrimination

As a broadly experienced training consultant for the past 25 years, I have developed my career on a foundation of practical, hands-on experience. I specialise in emotional intelligence, pyschometrics and teambuilding, primarily within the private sector. Although I have been consulting for some time, I am currently finding it difficult to find new assignments. I am keen to move backin-house but have had a very poor response from recruitment consultants. I get a feeling that the existing hesitation to my application is due to my age, not ability. Where do I stand on this?

Your concern may well hold weight, but it is very important to ensure that the poor response from the recruitment consultancy is not for some other reason. It is impossible to advise specifically without knowing more, but a lack of in-house experience or indeed the wrong type of training experience may be the reason the jobs you are applying for are poorly matched.

The difficulty in securing assignments for your own consultancy could suggest there is a general market slowdown in your specialist area, something that might also be being reflected when you apply for these jobs. Of course, a poor response from a recruitment consultant should always be qualified as they should be in a good position to advise you constructively. I suggest you seek as much clarification from them as possible.

If some form of age discrimination has taken place, your rights are soon to change. There is currently no legal protection against age discrimination, however new regulations outlawing age discrimination at work come into force on 1 October 2006. The new laws will help to ensure that people are no longer denied jobs because of their age and workers of all ages will have an equal chance of promotion and training.

From October, if you feel you are at a disadvantage because of age-related criteria for recruitment, you can bring a claim for age discrimination to an employment tribunal. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free impartial advice on all employment rights issues. Its helpline is 08457 474747.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, a growing number of specialist training companies are offering age diversity workshops. This is certain to be a training skill that will be very much in demand.

Alex Raubitschek, managing director, Ortus

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