SMEs must recognise the importance of mature professionals

Employees over the age of 60 might not be surprised to hear that colleagues see them as an ‘older worker’, but they might be surprised to learn how just much their peers value their contribution in the office.

A study from CV-Library, the UK’s largest job site, reveals that the majority of UK professionals believe older workers make a valuable contribution to UK businesses. Yet despite this, many struggle to find new employment.

experienced worker

Following on from National Older People’s Day, which took place on Thursday 1st October, the job site conducted research amongst a cross-section of over 2,400 UK employees aged between 18-70+ to ascertain how they felt about mature professionals in the workplace. Findings revealed an overwhelming sense of respect:

  • 92.2% of workers believe older workers make a valuable contribution to UK businesses;
  • 76.6% of staff believe that older workers bring years of experience and knowledge to an organisation that can’t be found in a younger worker;
  • 92.7% of workers believe the mature staff should still be able to excel in the workplace;
  • Almost half of professionals (48.5%) only consider someone to be an older worker once they are 60 or older;

However, despite receiving an overwhelming sense of respect from the UK workforce, it seems that the same regard is not echoed by businesses. When asked to explain key issues on age in relation to work, seeking new employment was the most common concern, with almost half (46%) of 55-64 year olds considering age to be a hindrance.

“I’m 60, and despite years of experience in all aspects of office administration, I cannot even get a job as a filing clerk. I have got six years before I can retire. Why can’t I get a job? I’m not going to drop dead at my desk (I hope),” said Judy, from the survey’s 55-64 years old age group.

Even younger workers sometimes struggled due to their advancing years.

“I’m only 48 and I want to work,” says Sarah, from the West Midlands, who was part of the survey, “but my overall impression is that experience counts for nothing. I’m always being interviewed by people half my age; they do not know how to deal with a serious candidate.”

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library comments, “Age is a sensitive subject for many but it should never be an obstacle in the workplace. It’s reassuring to see that UK professionals understand the valuable contribution older workers make to UK businesses, but it’s not enough if age discrimination still exists in the recruitment process.”

“Hearing that someone in their thirties feels too old to start a new career is extremely worrying. Staff are excited about working with talented professionals, regardless of age, and businesses need to listen to this feedback. Age discrimination in the workplace or the recruitment process is unacceptable and it’s time to break down barriers for older workers looking for jobs,” concludes Biggins.

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