Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 18, 2017

Isn’t It Time To End Age Discrimination In The Workplace?

Retirement is our reward after decades of hard work. It’s an opportunity to spend time doing the things we want to do when we want to do them. Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, travelling, volunteering for causes that we believe in or finally sitting down to write our memoires most of us expect to retire and enjoy a long and healthy retirement.

But how many people can actually afford to retire? For people in developing countries around the world retirement is still a luxury. Even for those of us lucky enough to live in countries that have “social safety nets” retirement is not always possible or desirable.

Take Jean for example, who after working for years as a health care manager finally took the plunge and retired at age 64. Now she has discovered that the condo unit she bought needs major repair work and she will have to return to work to make enough money to cover her costs. Or Sarah, who changed jobs throughout her career, completed her master’s degree at age 55, landed a great paying job and has plans to work until she is at least 70, maybe longer.

Dr. Suzanne Cook, adjunct professor at York University and Faculty Fellow at the Trent Centre for Aging & Society has been studying the phenomenon of later life careers for almost 10 years. In fact, through her ground-breaking research Dr. Cook discovered that “a new stage of career is emerging. Redirection is an alternative to retirement as working life is extended.” Her research has resulted in something she’s calling The Redirection Project which includes a newly released documentary.

In Canada, mandatory retirement was abolished years ago. But, age discrimination is still an issue and makes it difficult for job seekers over 50 years of age to find work.

Workplaces need older workers to fill existing and emerging jobs but the following are persistent beliefs about older workers that act as barriers for older job seekers:

  • If old people keep working they will take jobs away from younger people in need of work.
  • Older workers miss more days of work than younger workers.
  • Older workers can’t keep up with technology.
  • Older workers resent having to report to younger supervisors.
  • It’s not work training older workers because they will soon leave the workforce.

In fact, all of the above “myths” have been proven to be false.

“The over 50’s are a major untapped resource—a hidden talent pool that can boost output, employment and living standards now and in the future.” Dr. Ros Altmann, Business Champion for Older Workers in the UK.

In future posts I will cover some of the interesting approaches being used around the world by governments and organizations seeking to decrease age discrimination and encourage the recruitment and engagement of older workers.

Lesley Taylor

 

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