Over 45? Then you're not welcome at work

Sarah Coles
Age discrimination at work
Age discrimination at work

More than one in four workers aged 45 or older have been discriminated against at work because of their age. Younger employees and managers think they are slow, out of touch, and take endless sickness leave. But by dismissing more than a generation of workers, they are making a terrible mistake.

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The research, by recruitment site totaljobs, found that as a result of discrimination, half of those over the age of 45 worry about competition from younger employees when it comes to career progression. A third of them add that their employer has done nothing to cater to the needs of older people in the workplace.

Not dead yet

In the short term, this is a travesty for older people, whose expertise and experience count for nothing in workplaces where all the managers care about is fresh-faced enthusiasm. In the long term, this will be a disaster for everyone, because by 2020 a third of the workforce will be over 50, and there will be plenty of people still hard at work well into their 60s and 70s. Employers who are still hankering for the fresh-faced will find themselves fishing from a smaller and smaller talent pool – while older talent is left abandoned.

These employers will also be missing out on the many benefits of having a diverse workforce, where youth, experience, tech experts, and those with a finely tuned sense of perspective all have something to bring to the party.

The researchers brought together a panel discuss the findings. Among the panel was celebrity builder Tommy Walsh. He said: "As I've got older, I've noticed a few aches and creaks I didn't use to have, but my ambition has never waned and I refuse to believe there will come a time when there is no need for the extra experience, confidence and savvy someone of my age could provide."

"The research also shows that 85% of our over-45s believe they are as adaptable to change as they have ever been, so we need to get rid of this cliché that you become a digital dinosaur after a certain age, or resistant to learning new skills. Employees of all ages should be able to share and learn with each other without fear.