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Age discrimination impacts job prospects of over 50s

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

More than half (52%) of people aged over 50 who have searched for work in the past five years, equating to nearly 3 million people, believe their age made employers less likely to hire them.

Jobseekers aged over 50 felt that perceptions that they are overqualified, too close to retirement age or more expensive hampered their job search.

A report by Legal & General Retail Retirement (LGRR) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) titled Working Late: Over 50s and employment found that 46% of job seekers aged 50 to 59, and 64% of job seekers aged 60 to 69, felt their age put them at a significant disadvantage when looking for jobs.

In addition to finding age to be a barrier in their job search, other common experiences facing over 50s included feeling overqualified for the jobs they identified (37%), believing their skills did not meet the standards required in today’s workplace (35%), and encountering unsuitable hours and a lack of flexibility in working hours or location (33%).

Over 50s seeking employment also found poor health (17%) and caring responsibilities (9%) adversely affected their job search, especially when these were not accommodated for by potential employers.

The study asked over 50s to describe circumstances in which they believe their age made employers less likely to hire them. Most frequently, over 50s noted a lack of invites to interview (22%), and for those who were interviewed, receiving rejections (16%).

Actual or perceived closeness to retirement was also stated as a reason that employers were less likely to hire them (11%), as well as actual or perceived generational skills gap (8%).

Less frequently, respondents noted that some job offers had implicit or explicit age restrictions biased toward younger workers, and that they have found the ‘cultural fit’ emphasised by businesses to be exclusionary.

In terms of driving factors for why over 50s were searching for a job, 29% stated it was wholly financial, whereas 26% stated that their search was driven entirely by other aspects, including life satisfaction as well as social and mental health benefits.

Andrew Kail, CEO of Legal & General Retail Retirement, said: “The number of job seekers in their 50s and 60s who believe they are not finding work because they are ‘overqualified’, too close to ‘retirement age’ or more expensive shows how difficult the recruitment landscape is for those wanting to get back into work or stay in work longer.

“With the state pension age rising to 68, and the prospect of planning for an income well into our 90s, many older workers simply can’t afford to retire. It’s therefore vital that we move towards a job market in which older people are not overlooked.”