The government should fund ‘help to hire’ bootcamps to help small businesses recruit and retain over 50s, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has said.
As vacancies continue to grow across the economy, getting over 50s back into work or remaining in work for longer is a major facet of chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s plans to address current and long-term labour market challenges.
However, the management body has found many employers still have negative attitudes towards recruiting older workers. A survey carried out by the CMI in October found that 74% of managers are open to hiring younger workers between the ages of 18 and 34, but this proportion drops to just 42% when asked about their openness to hire people aged between 50 and 64.
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Further research from Reed Talent Solutions found that two-thirds of over 50s expect to encounter ageism in recruitment, while the Office for National Statistics found that lifestyle changes, caring responsibilities ad difficulties in finding paid work prevented many out-of-work over 50s from returning to the workforce.
The CMI said that a “help to hire” course, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, could help employers understand how to best to attract over 50s to their organisations and how to prevent older workers from leaving their jobs in the first place.
It could also enable SMEs to form local networks to share information on what has worked to fill vacancies in their organisations.
The body suggested the programme could be similar to the “help to grow” management scheme that subsidises leaders in small organisations to undertake an intensive course in techniques and practices to increase productivity and expand their reach.
CMI policy director Anthony Painter said: “There are steps employers can consider when it comes to what works best for older workers to fill the skills gap that is a constant drag on the UK economy. This includes everything from the type of flexibility that is needed to accommodate possible health issues, part time options that allow older people to work around caring responsibilities, tools to help diagnose any technological support or upskilling that they might need, or even understanding how occupational health programmes should be viewed as an investment in their future business.
“Done right, a Help to Hire course can save small businesses in the long run as it will cut the recruitment costs that come with employee turnover and will help them to create a more skilled, confident and ultimately more productive workforce. It needs to be viewed as an investment in the future of UK plc.”
Studies by the Resolution Foundation and consultancy LCP have said the government is wrong to focus on recent retirees to address labour shortages, suggesting that any attempt to encourage them back into work would be unsuccessful.
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