From education to employment

Ageing workforce; enabling the older generation to find work

Mike Thompson, Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays

Apprenticeships provide many opportunities for people to work, however there is one group that, despite their skillset and knowledge, struggle to find a viable route to employment. The older generation – those over the age of 50 – are often tasked with a much trickier job of securing full-time work, with their age and social circumstances often hindering their efforts.

With age bias being a prevalent issue in recruitment today, those over 50 often miss out on job opportunities that they would otherwise excel at simply because of the year they were born in.

This is despite the fact that the ageing work force across the UK is only set to increase with people now living longer, healthier and more active lives. This, combined with the plans to increase the state pension age, means people are retiring much later and are therefore seeking new work opportunities later in life. With the older workforce continuing to increase, more needs to be done to support those who wish to return to employment or who want a change in career.

It’s often believed by many recruiters that employing those over the age of 50 poses a ‘risk’ to their business, despite the older generation being less likely to have a sick day and being just as likely to pass training as their younger counterparts.[1] Employees over the age of 50 bring a great deal of experience, knowledge and stability which shouldn’t be discounted. According to research by Caita Resourcing, 73 per cent of those over the age of 55 said that “employers aren’t doing enough to tap into their knowledge and skills,” despite the fact that “94 per cent of businesses believe that older professionals could provide the key to bridging the skills gap”¹.

Reskilling can be successfully achieved later in life, providing the right training is made available. Businesses across the country should seize the opportunity to integrate the over 50s into their offices and provide relevant training, which, in turn will allows them to tap into one of the biggest labour forces in the UK.

I believe another part of the problem is that older people feel discouraged from applying for certain roles and positions because they believe themselves to be ‘too old’ for the job. We, as employers, need to show them that this isn’t the case, and promote the fact that we need them to help our businesses to grow.

For Barclays, launching the Bolder Apprenticeship programme has been a great way to demonstrate our commitment to creating career opportunities regardless of age. Inspired by our amazing apprentices, we now want to start a conversation with other businesses, regardless of sector or industry, to address how we can maximise the valuable contribution older workers make.

It is my belief that the ageing workforce has the potential to contribute greatly to productivity and the economy and we should therefore be providing opportunities for this demographic to excel in the workplace.

Mike Thompson, Head of Apprenticeships at Barclays

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