Seven out of 10 British employers say they are now actively seeking to recruit older workers, signalling that the era of being thrown on the career scrapheap at 50 is finally – perhaps – passing.
The finding is part of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's annual Recruitment, Retention and Turnover Survey.
Organisations, the HR professionals' body has said, are responding to continuing recruitment difficulties and this autumn's new age anti-discrimination regulations by adapting their recruitment and retention policies.
Some 70 per cent of employers said they were now actively seeking to recruit people aged between 55 and pension age, while 31 per cent were seeking to recruit people already entitled to the state pension.
The research also dispelled the myth that employers did not want to recruit young people, as the survey found 74 per cent were actively trying to recruit 16-24 year olds, said the CIPD.
Report author Nicola Monson said: "It is encouraging to see that so many organisations are introducing age diverse practices ahead of the new regulations in October.
"This enables employers to tap into the relatively unused talent pool of older workers to overcome recruitment difficulties and help build an age diverse workforce that can add real value to business, not just in terms of older workers but all age groups," she added.
"However in order to recruit fairly and remove any age bias there is still much that can be done, for example removing any age-related criteria from the application process," she continued.
The survey also found that British employers were continuing to experience recruitment difficulties, with more than eight out of ten employers reporting difficulties in finding staff.
A lack of the necessary specialist skills were cited as the key reason for such difficulties.
In order to overcome this, more than six out of 10 organisations had appointed people who had the potential to grow but did not currently have all that was required.
The survey also found that providing additional training to allow internal staff to fill posts had the most positive impact (cited by 58 per cent).
Monson said: "While it is concerning that organisations are still reporting recruitment difficulties despite increased unemployment and an influx of migrant workers, the survey does suggest that many organisations appreciate the importance of additional training and the value of developing their internal talent pool as a solution to recruitment problems."
Organisations were also continuing to look beyond UK workers to fill vacancies, with 15 per cent targeting migrant workers from European Union accession states.
This was seen to have a positive impact on recruitment difficulties by nearly half of those polled.
A further one in ten were recruiting in foreign countries and bringing workers over to the UK.
Almost thirds of organisations polled were now using e-recruitment. The main business objective reported for using this method was reducing costs, followed by broadening the selection pool and reducing the time it took to hire.
The survey also found three quarters of organisations now using corporate websites to attract applicants, compared with just 67 per cent last year.
Despite almost half of organisations agreeing that e-recruitment would replace paper based applications in the future, the same number believed online recruitment was increasing the number of unsuitable applicants, added the CIPD.
There was a slight increase in labour turnover – with the rate reported for 2005 at 18 per cent, compared with 16 per cent in 2004 and 2003.
The private sector continued to experience the highest labour turnover rates, at 23 per cent.
Within this sector, hotels, catering and leisure organisations reported the highest rate of employee turnover at 43 per cent.
The main reasons for employee turnover were change of career (46 per cent), promotion outside the organisation (45 per cent) and pay (34 per cent).
Redundancies of ten or more had increased from 22 per cent last year to 28 per cent, added the CIPD.
Recruitment freezes had also increased over the past 12 months, from 19 per cent to 24 per cent.
Public sector organisations were experiencing more problems recruiting staff, with 89 per cent reporting difficulties, in comparison to the voluntary sector where 13 per cent fewer organisations were reporting recruitment difficulties, concluded the CIPD.