At the heart of our Future of jobs report is the firm belief that individuals should be able to succeed through work, irrespective of their background. Your age, gender, ethnicity or where you grew up shouldn’t matter. The report also highlights people’s changing attitudes to employment. More and more individuals want to stay in work for longer. Indeed, according to official data, there are almost one million people aged 50-64 in the UK that would like to be in work but are not. This needs to change.
Highlighting the challenges facing older workers, putting forward solutions and supporting members will continue to be a priority for the REC, building on the guidance we produced with Age UK in support of the government’s Fuller Working Lives Strategy. We’ve been very active already this year, hosting a roundtable with Timewise on the latest research emerging from the Centre for Ageing Better’s and appearing before parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee to give evidence to their older workers inquiry. Some of the key themes that have emerged include:
Recruiters have a key role to play in educating clients and supporting candidates. Poorly laid out job descriptions and designs risk deterring candidates. Recruiters are in a unique position to challenge this and press clients to practice good recruitment. We also heard that some older candidates are reluctant to put themselves forward as they feel their application will be ignored. REC member Hewitt Recruitment’s 50+ Skills team offers bespoke advice to help older job applicants overcome these worries. This is just one example of the good practice we’ll be sharing throughout the year. If you’ve got a story to tell, please get in touch.
Flexibility can be a key enabler. The Centre for Ageing Better’s new research highlights the importance of flexibility in enabling people to have longer and more sustainable working lives. Timewise research shows that 72 per cent of people over 55 want flexible working but demand outstrips supply. Flexible hiring needs to become the norm and this is something we’ll be continuing to promote through our Good Recruitment Campaign and Future of jobs work.
Unconscious bias continues to be a challenge. The Women and Equalities Select Committee were particularly interested in unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Reviews like Ruby McGregor-Smith’s into race in the workplace have shown that unconscious bias is an issue for recruitment, retention and progression. While, unconscious bias is by its nature difficult to tackle, there are important steps recruiters can take to reduce it as recommended by our Age UK / REC Age Opportunity guide. The appointment of diversity champions and quality, face-to-face training have been shown to be effective as well context blind recruitment, using age neutral language and online tools such as Applied. We’ll be conducting research later this year on the topic and look forward to sharing this with members and government.
The older workers agenda will continue to be a key priority for us and we’ll be exploring it at our next Inclusive Recruitment Forum on 17 April. We look forward to working with Timewise and the Centre for Ageing Better to disseminate their research findings into something practical for recruiters. We’ll also be continuing to highlight our industry’s positive contribution and putting forward recommendations to the government to improve labour market access for older people.