In my family, Joan Collins’ age and appearance has been an annual topic of discussion. My mum also turned 80 yesterday.
While Joan was celebrated in a series of glamorous photos, as in this piece in the daily mail, my Mum’s celebrations were more mundane. Today she is off to visit her Aunt (who at 103 has the last word on age related debates in our family) and to prepare for our large extended family to descend for a party on Saturday. While there may be an issue with older women’s visibility in the media – indeed the Daily Mail’s photo montage is in some respects slightly disturbing – here’s a Happy Birthday to my mum – and anyone else who celebrated 80 years yesterday, famous or not.
CIPD are reporting on the IDS survey predicting a 8% rise in graduate recruitment this year - with the retail sector as the major area of growth. However it is not all rosy as, perhaps unsurprisingly, graduate salaries are not expected to increase.
While its an ongoing debate across many areas of the media, debates about the battle for jobs between older and younger workers always hots up with a new set of statistics or poll.
Today, Yahoo explicilty reports on “How Baby Boomers Take Jobs from Younger Workers” quoting US unemployment figures that “the unemployment rate among workers 55 and older is just 5.5%, while it’s 16.1% among 16- to 24-year-olds”.
While the notion of competition is a common feature in many debates here it is slightly hedged, reporting that: “Older, experienced workers don’t necessarily compete directly for jobs with recent college grads. But the economy can only support so many jobs, and as older workers stay on the payroll longer, it impedes the creation of new jobs, many of which would go to younger workers”. Evidence for this particular aspect of the debate is however rather sparse and often inferred from broader statistics.
We think this is the first ’intergenerational leave’ initiative we’ve come across, introduced by Heritage Bank in Australia, according to this news story. Working grandparents are entitled to take leave to support their children on the arrival of a grandchild, while ‘eldercare leave’ is also accomodated, although the exact nature of these entitlements is not reported. And for staff not needing either of these – well there is a six-month ‘career break’ unpaid leave option.
As reported here in The Telegraph, the latest ONS figures show a rise in the number of British workers employed on ‘zero hours’ contracts.
These started out primarily in the high street in sectors such as fast food and retail; they allow employers to change each week the shifts of staff employed on these terms. Staff are essentially on standby and can be deployed according to demand; the figures show a seasonal pattern with contracts rising in the run up to Christmas and declining over the summer months.
According to this BBC item, however, a record number of young people are now on ‘zero hours’ contracts at work. The ONS figures show that the number of 16-24-year-olds on ‘zero hours’ contracts rose from 35,000 in 2008 to 76,000 in 2012. Younger workers are far more likely to be given this type of contract with one in every three ‘zero hours’ employees now under the age of 25.
As 22 year old Jessica, quoted in the piece, says: “You can’t live without worrying if you can pay your rent. It’s all right for students or people who live at home but if you have to support yourself then you need security and a set wage every month.”
The International Longevity Centre UK, supported by funds from NESTA, has just published a Provocation which calls for the extension of working lives.
ILCUK argues that this extension is necessary to minimise the economic impacts of ageing caused by raising the State Pension Age. This is because of the current gap between when people are actually retiring and reaching SPA. The key actions that ILCUK calls for are:
- We must all act to change our attitudes to retirement and working longer
- Employers must take the initiative in leading innovation (and it provides a number of case studies involving e.g. BMW, Sainsburys and Ernst & Young)
- Older workers’ attitudes and aspirations must shape the agenda
- There is a need for a strategic approach, with integration of policy to support older workers with other areas, such as health, pensions and education
A summary of the Provocation is here on the ILCUK website from where a copy can also be downloaded.
We are delighted to have been invited along to talk about our research with the BPS Wessex Branch on 5th June. Further details on available on their website.
According to the Bermuda Sun, the Government in Bermuda has not included age discrimination in the workplace in its amendments to the Human Rights Act that will be tabled in Parliament later this month.
In common with many countries, it seems that Bermuda also has an ageing population. The charity Age Concern argues that many older people there cannot afford or do not wish to retire at the ‘so called retirement age of 65′ and has challenged the Minister to do whatever is necessary to remove the threat of job loss on the grounds of age ‘as soon as practical’.
It’s interesting how age is sometimes the last ‘characteristic’ to be given legal protection in respect of workplace discrimination.
This is the view of MP Austin Mitchell, as reported here in The Telegraph. The article is in fact based on an opinion piece written by Mr Mitchell for The Oldie magazine so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that in it he reflects on the changing age profile of MPs and Cabinet Ministers. His lament is that ‘Parliament gets younger as society gets older’.
He draws attention to the fact that the average age of the current Cabinet is 52, notwithstanding Ken Clarke (72), Vince Cable (69) and Sir George Young (71) whilst the shadow Cabinet’s average age is 45. David Cameron (46) and Ed Miliband (47) are younger than previous leaders since, in the past, prime ministers took up their jobs in late middle age, with some staying on into their eighties like Gladstone, Salisbury and Churchill.
He also claims that older MPS are today dismissed as irrelevant failures with those who use Twitter being ‘abused as dinosaurs, geriatrics or out-of-touch idiots’.
This piece provides an example of the wide-spread concern with youth employment across different areas of the globe: ”Somalia’s lost generation: why youth employment is key to stability“, though of course with specific and in this case clearly very difficult factors playing a role. The United Nations find that youth unemployment in Somalia is at 67% (among all 14 to 29-year olds) and outline the danger for post-conflict recovery if this is not addressed.