SMEs fear recruitment process discriminates against older workers

A new survey shows SMEs are concerned that their recruitment process discriminates against older workers.

Recruitment: People seated waiting for interviews holding CVs


Despite nearly nine in 10 SMEs saying they can see benefits in employing older workers, most feel that the recruitment process discriminates against them, according to an independent survey.

The survey of 933 SMEs in the UK, commissioned by Close Brothers Asset Finance and conducted by specialist research firm Lightspeed, found employers say they value older workers’ experience and their ability to mentor more junior members of the workforce, 66% feel the recruitment process favours younger workers. Nevertheless, 58% say that one third or more of their workforce is over the age of 50.

Skills gaps

The figures show that larger employers are particularly worried about the impact on their ability to plug skills gaps. While 52% of firms are comfortable with being able to recruit the talent they need in the coming five years, 35% are predicting problems in the future and a further 13% say they’re already struggling.

“Our research has found that in recruitment there is the sense that it’s not currently a level playing field between the generations, with 66% of SME business owners of the view that the process favours younger workers,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “This sentiment is particularly strong in the engineering sector, which trends well above the national average at 76%, and suffers from a significant skills shortage.

“It’s widely acknowledged that older workers bring with them valuable experience accumulated over the course of many decades, which comes with many attendant benefits for organisations. Positively, the findings also reveal that many businesses recognise that employing people with more experience is an opportunity to mentor and train those new to employment while also providing a level of stability and level headedness to the workplace.”

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