Thoughtful advertising is key to attracting older workers – REC

Filed under Press release

Monday, 26 January 2015


Businesses need to improve the way they advertise jobs and provide training opportunities in order to attract older workers according to the results of a survey issued by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).


Employers were asked to identify the most important change businesses should make to encourage applications from jobseekers aged 55 and over. Almost four in ten (37%) respondents highlighted issues around advertising, while a third (34%) indicated that they should be providing more opportunities for older workers to upskill or reskill.


Twenty per cent said that businesses need to be more careful with language used in job adverts to avoid discouraging older workers. A further 17 per cent said that hirers need to look beyond posting jobs exclusively online to reach the widest pool of potential candidates.


Previous research published by The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise has suggested that of the 3.3 million people aged 50-64 who are economically inactive in the UK, approximately 1 million have been made ‘involuntarily workless’ due to redundancy, ill health or early retirement. Reintegrating this demographic back into the workforce could boost the UK’s GDP by up to £88 billion.


Employment Minister Esther McVey said:


“With 50 being the new 30, there are more and more older workers wanting to make the most of their skills and experience in a new career, and they have a hugely valuable contribution to make to any workforce.


“Despite the recent impressive trends in those over 50 getting back into work, older workers still in many cases face outdated stereotypes when it comes to business hiring practices.


“Not only is this a waste of valuable talent and ‘life skills’, but it’s a missed opportunity for businesses to make their most of their experience to support younger colleagues develop their careers.”


REC chief executive Kevin Green said:


“The UK is suffering from skills shortages across the economy and at the same time businesses are telling us that they are at capacity and can’t take on more work without more staff.


“Older workers have a huge amount of experience, skill and knowledge to offer organisations. However, to encourage this talent back into the labour market employers need to be more effective at attracting them as well as potentially structuring the work differently to suit this life style.


“Simple changes to the language used in job descriptions and the way jobs are advertised could be significant. We encourage hirers to work alongside specialist recruiters who understand the benefits that older workers can bring, and who can help tailor job roles to meet their needs.”


Dr Ros Altmann, Business Champion for Older Workers at the Department for Work and Pensions said:


“People are living longer and want to work for longer, and it’s vital to our economy that they do. Businesses need to act now in order to benefit from the extensive skills and experience that older workers bring. It is important not to rule out older applicants when recruiting new talent.


“In March I will publish evidence of the business case for retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers. As today’s survey shows, ongoing training and ensuring all workers have up-to-date skills will also be vital to make sure older people are not overlooked in the recruitment process.”




Notes to editors:

    1.    The REC asked 200 UK employers from across the public, private and non-profit sector, and from across a range of industries and sizes of organisation the following question:


    ‘In your view, what is the single most important change needed to attract more applications from older worker [aged 55 plus]?’


    a) Don’t just advertise online – 17%

    b) Remove language such as ‘graduate’ or ‘energetic’ in job descriptions – 20%

    c) Offer flexible working – 9%

    d) Offer internships/apprenticeship for older workers – 3%

    e) Offer upskilling/reskilling training – 34%

    f) Offer different incentives for career progression – 2%

    g) Unsure – 15%


    2.    The REC’s JobsOutlook tracking survey reports the responses of 600 employers about their hiring intentions. In December 2014, 93 per cent of respondents reported to having ‘little’ or ‘no capacity’ to take on more work. See:


    3.    The missing million: illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50s’, published October 2014 by Business in the Community, The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME), and the International Longevity Centre can be read using the following link: 

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