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Workers over the age of 50 may be out of work for many reasons but can be some of the smartest hires your company will make. Within the UK, age discrimination is prohibited under the Equality Act, ensuring that all workers regardless of age, are protected from any form of bias. Despite these legal protections, older employees may still face challenges due to ageism in the recruitment process. It is crucial for companies to recognise the potential advantages of the over-50s cohort, and actively work to eliminate any barriers they may encounter when seeking a job at the company.
Unfortunately, some employers still base their hiring and business decisions on age - employers can legally make decisions based on someone's age if they can show that it is objectively justified and proportionate. This can lead to redundancy for older workers and indirect or unconscious age discrimination.
Key Challenges Faced by Over 50s
Research conducted by ReAct Partnership, an industry-led centre for action research and continuous improvement within the Restart Scheme (part of the government’s plan for jobs), reveals that those over 50 have faced challenges in re-entering the labour market, especially during the pandemic and the rising cost of living.
Due to being part of the older generation, over-50 workers may face a skills gap, especially in terms of using digital tools. The way employers advertise and recruit for jobs has changed significantly and very few companies now have a physical application form, a method the over-50s cohort commonly used to apply for jobs when they started out in their working life.
Benefits of Hiring Workers Aged Over 50
There are multiple benefits of hiring workers aged over 50:
What Is Being Done to Support Older Workers?
Prime Cymru, a registered charity supporting mature individuals in Wales, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a network of Development Officers and 50 PLUS Champions offering one-to-one dedicated support for this cohort which includes:
Serco Restart Scheme Signs Age Friendly Pledge
Leading by example, Serco Restart Scheme hosted an event in March 2023 to address and share knowledge and best practice on the subject of barriers to employment for older workers with partners and stakeholders. Since then, the Serco Restart Scheme has made efforts to further develop and enhance the support we offer to older Restart Scheme participants to take into account their unique challenges while searching for work.
Serco's Restart Scheme Team has also demonstrated its commitment to supporting the employment of those aged over 50 by providing free digital skills courses, frequently working closely with the Centre for Ageing Better (CAB) and DWP's 50 PLUS Champions to gain advice and guidance, and signing the CAB’s Age Friendly Employer Pledge. The Age Friendly Pledge is a nationwide programme for employers who recognise the importance and value of older workers and are committed to improving work opportunities for people in their 50s (and beyond) and are prepared to take action to help them flourish in a multigenerational workforce. By eradicating age discrimination and promoting inclusivity, companies can tap into the invaluable experience and work ethic that the over 50s cohort brings.