Not retiring: Towards a more age-inclusive society

We’ve all been young and we’re all going to get old, if we’re lucky, so why don’t we all work together to end ageist attitudes?

Three generations smiling to camera


It’s another new year and, with redundancies rising and pressure from Government to get people back to work, many people will be in the position of looking for a new job. We know that is harder as you get older. Our survey consistently shows high levels of perceived ageism in the recruitment process. Things don’t seem to have progressed much on that front in the last few years. That is probably because ageism is a deep-rooted cultural issue and those kinds of things take longer that you think to shift.

For some it is due to automated systems that throw their cv out from the get-go. Maybe they have had a career break; maybe they don’t have a degree despite having decades of a experience in the field; maybe they haven’t adapted their cv to the age of keywords. But it’s not just automated systems or job adverts whose language tends to assume only younger people are welcome to apply that are the problem. The interview process itself can be difficult if you manage to get that far with any sense of self-confidence still intact because being rejected does cause you to doubt yourself, even if you know it is just an algorithm that is doing the rejecting and it really isn’t personal.

One man emailed us as follows: “I went for an interview after much rejection due to my age. They asked me “where do you see yourself in five years” and a massive snigger went around the room.” It’s completely humiliating. What’s more, everyone with any sense surely knows that the five-year question is completely pointless and the result of lazy thinking. It generally doesn’t tell you much about what a candidate can do that is useful.

That man gave up on the world of employment and trained to be a driving instructor. Many older workers do leave employment and seek self-employed options. In fact, an IPSE analysis shows that the number of over 50s seeking self employment has risen in the years since Covid while it has fallen in other age groups. The reasons will be varied, but problems finding meaningful and challenging work the older you get must be among them. Another man commented on an article on jobs for people in their 60s: “Most of the people making comments about applying for a position after or on retirement seemingly are dejected and disappointed about their failure to find a ‘new’ job. Where are these jobs that you are talking about?”

It’s all very well expecting people to work longer, but you first have to create a culture that makes older workers feel welcome.

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