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A call for action for older workers

by on October 10, 2012

With many countries experiencing both high youth unemployment and population ageing, it is time to start thinking of older workers as a category that deserves specific attention. This was the key message in an address by Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Director for Employment (ILO), at the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) Ministerial Conference on Ageing.

He identifies the need for a call for action for older workers in the same way as has happened in response to youth unemployment. Suggested policies include:

  • developing education and training activities for older workers
  • training for older unemployed people
  • incentives to promote employment for older workers
  • awareness-raising campaigns to challenge stereotypes about ageing
  • investment in health care and social protection to support those in ill-health or who have worked in difficult conditions.

Interestingly, one of the examples given is the kind of programme we blogged about yesterday (as run by the NOWCC in the USA).

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One Comment
  1. Paula Fitzgerald permalink

    I agree with all of the above. However, the deeper question is whether UK organisations would employ up to date and retrained older workers? A lot of stereotypes, that research has demonstrated have little o nor grounding, is used to play the older workers agains the youth. Research has shown that, ceteris paribus, hiring managers have a tendency to gravitate towards the younger candidates.

    Looking at a recent youth unemployment campaign that a newspaper ran over the past few weeks in their front pages, I fear that words such as ‘unemployable’ and ‘unemployed’ may be used interchangeably. The fact the someone is young does not necessarily make them ’employable’, these young people have to be able to offer ‘something’ to employers. On the other hand, ageism appears so ingrained in the workforce. It would appear that we – as a society- are more ‘comfortable’ with allowing (employable) older candidates to be unemployed and plunge them into poverty, than we are with the youth (even if they are unemployable). I am not sure if I understand why this is…but find it rather worrying…

    Whilst I do not particularly like these campaigns, when looking at these from an ‘equality’ lens I wonder why is it this newspaper did not bother to run a similar campaign in parallel for older (employable) candidates… just as they did with the youth recently? Why can’t they assist older workers to find suitable employment?

    It may be true after all, that ‘ageism’ is the last socially condoned ‘ism’? and so…What are we, as a society, going to do about it in view of the ageing population? Voluntary codes of practice, as ‘effective’ as the ones already in existence, need not to apply.

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