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The Overlooked Issue: Age Discrimination and Career Development for the Over 45s

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

In today's rapidly changing job market, diversity and career development are topics frequently talked about.

While workplaces are gradually recognizing the value of diversity and inclusion, there's one demographic that seems to remain in the shadows – workers over the age of 45. It's an issue that has far-reaching implications, yet employers often appear indifferent or unaware.

The Over 45s in the Workforce: A Vital Demographic

Why is this demographic so important? Across the world there are many countries and areas that have an aging population. This is caused by lower childbirth numbers combined with people living longer.

According to the UK's Centre for Ageing Better, a third of the workforce in England are aged over 50 and this number is steadily increasing. In the US it's projected that in 2024 nearly one-quarter of the workforce will be aged 55 and older.

This demographic brings with it a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skills. They've weathered economic downturns, adapted to technological advancements, and possess a deep understanding of their respective industries. Yet, despite these credentials, they often find themselves overlooked.

Indifference or Unawareness?

One of the most alarming aspects of this issue is the seeming indifference or lack of awareness among employers. Age related discrimination is often subtle and hard to pinpoint. It can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Hiring Biases: Studies have shown that older job seekers face longer periods of unemployment than their younger counterparts. Many employers may hold unfounded stereotypes about older workers, assuming they're less adaptable or less productive.

  • Limited Training Opportunities: Career development often involves ongoing training and skill-building. However, older workers might find themselves excluded from these opportunities, with employers assuming they're not interested or capable of learning new skills.

  • Glass Ceilings: Advancement to higher positions may become increasingly difficult for older workers, as organizations may prioritize younger employees for leadership roles.

It's not just about discrimination. Organisations are failing to harness and use the wealth of knowledge and experience that older workers have. Formal mentor schemes can support the transfer of knowledge and experience but often these are targeted at people holding senior roles within a company.

Imagine how impactful it could be for a new entrant into the workplace to be buddied up with someone who could offer their own rich life experience to guide them at work? We often joke about a 'work mum' or a 'work dad', what if that wasn't a joke? What if you really had someone you could go to for work wisdom without judgement, advice from someone who has got your back and only wants the best for you?

And what about all those years of technical skills and problem solving? What happens to those when the person retires? Is it ok to let all that leave the building? Or do we need to find ways to collect and share and learn from that knowledge?

Preparing for retirement

Another concern is about the impact of retirement on individuals. Many companies, in line with changing legislation, quite rightly have scrapped a required retirement age. People are meaningfully contributing well into their 70s. But retirement at any age is a huge change. For some people the idea of retiring is blissful as they sink into a world of hobbies and passions. For others they have huge worries of the financial pressure they could be facing. Some will also be wondering what on earth they are going to do with themselves to pass the time. For many, the act of work has given them a purpose that they are anxious about losing. Aside from financial advice from the employer's pension providers most retirees are not supported in managing the change to retirement. Have they been offered a staggered reduction in hours? Have they had any guidance in what might be out there for them once retired?

Your help

The question arises: How can we address these issues and raise awareness about the importance of age diversity and career development for the over 45s?

Here's where you come in. I'm conducting a research study to gather insights from workers aged 45 and over. Your experiences, challenges, and aspirations matter, and your voice can help change the situation.

Complete The Questionnaire

By completing my questionnaire, you can contribute to shedding light on the issues faced by workers over 45 and the impact of age discrimination on career development. Your data will be crucial in advocating for change and promoting inclusivity in the workforce.

The questionnaire is via Typeform and is anonymous. Please click this link: Link to Questionnaire

Let's work together to ensure that no one's potential is wasted due to age-related biases. Together, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse workforce where age is not a barrier to professional growth.

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1 Kommentar

Panagiotis Syros
Panagiotis Syros
08. Nov. 2023

Alex, thank you so much for addressing this issue. It's so important to so many people but I feel that sometimes we feel embarrassed discussing it in the open. Only when I talk to some old colleagues in Greece I see how many brilliant people are feeling "left behind". My name is Panagiotis Syros and we have met in Dublin. I don't know if you remember me but I remember you and I'm grateful for the help you provided me then. Are you working with job seekers now, or just helping corporations with their HR needs?

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