Ageist stereotypes continue to blight the UK’s workplaces, leading to a huge wastage of skills and loss to the economy as those aged between 45 and 65 are marginalised from the workforce.
The research report, Challenging Age - Information, Advice and Guidance for Older Age Groups has been carried out by the Third Age Employment Network (TAEN) with funding from the Department for Education and Skills.
"As people get into their mid 40s, their labour market prospects rapidly decline." says Patrick Grattan, Chief Executive of Third Age Employment Network. "Many find themselves forcibly retired by their employers, perhaps through cost reductions, restructuring or for health reasons.
"People are hurt, frustrated and angry by what has happened. Getting back into the job market presents real challenges; often because of ageist attitudes and prejudices by too many employers, but also because individuals themselves can put up their own barriers and may have out-of-date or no formal qualifications and skills.”
While many people over 45 want to work, learn and continue to use their abilities in their later years, the report found that the availability of affordable training in areas other than basic IT literacy is lacking.
Many older people were highly critical of much of the help they received. In particular, the shortage of high-quality information, advice, guidance and retraining was seen as a real hindrance to overcome barriers to employment.
Older workers were also angry at being forced to accept low grade, low-skill positions – often it comes with the threat of losing benefit - as a means of massaging down the official unemployment figures.
"By finding out from older people what actually works for them, we have been able to put forward a model of best practice,” said Patrick Grattan. “We hope that it will become second nature for the 50 year old to seek good career advice, in the same way as it is for the 20 year old."