The Government is in danger of driving an accidentally ageist employment policy amongst UK companies who might follow guidance made by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in a speech today (Friday, July 1, 2011).
Mr Duncan Smith said that as the UK Government is putting so much effort into improving the employability of young people, companies must do their bit by taking on more young Brits rather than migrant workers.
But Dr Altmann, Director-General of over-50s organisation Saga, said while Saga welcomed the move to increase youth employment levels, British companies employing migrant workers are robbing not just one but two groups of British unemployed of new or start-up careers – young adults, and older people starting afresh following the abolition of the Default Retirement Age.
“Iain Duncan Smith is 100% correct on 50% of the issue. Yes, companies must do their bit to take on more young British people - but there are also many older British adults who are also effectively just entering the job market anew following the abolition of the Default Retirement Age,” said Dr Altmann.
“For many older people it is a second lease of working life – ‘bonus years’ I’d call it – in some cases starting a career afresh just as a young worker would; for some it is for stimulation and enjoyment, but for many it is because they simply have no money because of pensions issues or are having to cover the cost of caring for a family member.
“Special measures should not be confined to encouraging companies to take on younger British people seeking work. The fact is that 44% of Britons aged 50 to 64 who are unemployed have been looking for work for longer than 12 months - this compares with 30% of those aged under 50.
“Saga supports Iain Duncan Smith's call for UK companies to take on more British workers - indeed Saga will recruit some 1,000 people this year – but ageism, whether accidental or not, has no place in either UK economy or UK society.”
For further information please contact the Saga Press Office on 01303 771529.