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The Older Generation

25th October 2018

The Older Generation

It’s no surprise that skills shortages is second on the list of concerns for IoD members. 42% of those recently questioned saying it was causing them a major headache. The downside to good job figures is that it makes it harder for organisations to find the talent they need. But are we looking in the right places? And is ageism in recruitment, conscious or not, still a factor? Currently only 64% of people aged 55-64 in the UK are in employment. If this were to increase by just 20% – matching Sweden’s record on employing older people –  it would add about £80bn to the GDP.

SMEs Taking Advantage

In my experience of filling job vacancies, there’s a number of reasons why this demographic is overlooked. Interestingly, small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are taking advantage of this workforce faster than other larger businesses and organisations. They recognise the need for more flexibility in their thinking and how they operate the business to get the most out of it.

Employing Older People Is Beneficial

I employ two people over the age of 60. They are never late, never call in sick and are always wiling to go the extra mile. Older people tend to have better work ethic; they are used to routine and structure. This is something many younger people struggle with. Emotional intelligence is another factor. Older people, by and large, deal well with constructive feedback on their performance and realise it helps with development. Many younger employees have yet to develop that maturity and can often take feedback as criticism.

From a practical point of view, older employees are more settled and less likely to be looking for a ‘career move’ – so you get great work and life experience combined with stability. That’s good for the younger workforce too. They can learn lots from those who’ve already had their career and are willing to pass on some life lessons. Many are happy fulfilling roles less demanding than their actual ability, because they don’t want too much stress or pressure. As an employer, you may be able to get great experience for a very competitive salary compared to someone trying to climb the career ladder.

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

Older people are also able to apply all the skills and knowledge they have acquired over the years to new ventures. We’re seeing a rise in the trend of older entrepreneurs embarking on their third or fourth career. In fact, the IoD has made proposals to the Government to introduce tax incentives to encourage people in later life to pursue their business ideas and invest in training. This may not be everyone’s first choice, of course. But keeping older people connected to the business world through consulting, mentoring, part time employment or even full time employment retains their skills for longer – and that’s a win win for all of us.

By Helen Lacey, Red Berry Recruitment MD





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