At what age do we become an older worker? I never think of myself as getting ‘old’ but recent research by Totaljobs found that almost two-thirds of 55- to 64-year-olds have felt discriminated against by an employer because of their age.
Employment decisions based on age can never be justified. Commonly held stereotypes around lower productivity, motivation, resistance to change and ability to learn have no evidence as back up. In fact, there is more evidence that an older employer uses experience to perform at a higher level and performance improves with age. Age is also less important than differences in health, attitude and skill.
The story about Paul Fennel’s attempts to find employment at the age of 61 only goes to emphasise how important it is for interviewers and those involved with selection processes to be trained to make sure they understand how to avoid making recruitment decisions based on stereotypes.
After 225 failed job applications, over a five-month period, one glum jobseeker fears ageism may be the reason behind his unsuccessful campaign to find employment. Paul Fennel, 61, has been looking for work “non-stop” since November, telling The Huddersfield Daily Examiner that he’s put out up to ten job applications per day. With previous work as a coal miner, millworker and salesman, Fennel has also been employed as a £35,000-a-year manager for a telecoms firm. Fennel retains confidence in his abilities – having sold everything from insurance to burglar alarms – but fears that employers baulk at his age.