Keeping mature staff and attracting others from retirement is a better way of solving our skills shortage than transporting in migrants. So let us respect our fit and able mature workers to continue their excellent work for the success of the country.
Top executives in Europe, America and Asia have admitted for the first time that older (mature) workers are the key to fixing the skills gap globally. But why don’t these top executives persuade employees to stay on beyond retirement or to recruit other skilled and experienced people?
We are reaching a tipping point and we are seeing a fundamental movement in thinking across business. There is such an enormous white-collar and professional skills shortage that attitudes are having to change now, rapidly. Businesses are realising that they have to hold on to their mature skilled and experienced workers.
Due to the number of young adults decreasing in the West and lifespan increase, the limitations of today's strategy of importing foreign workers are showing. Persuading the mature workers to stay on and tempting others back from retirement is now imperative. We need all businesses to see the `light` otherwise costs of employment will rise rapidly.
It is some time now after the introduction of laws `banning` discrimination on the grounds of age, this prejudice is poised to overtake sex discrimination as the greatest workplace grievance. There is probably about a quarter of UK workers who feel they had been discriminated against on the grounds of age. At this present rate it will increase rapidly due to the increase in foreign workers being transported to the UK in droves!
Research from the Employers Forum on Age suggested that ageism remained deep-rooted in the workplace. Six out of ten people were said to have witnessed ageism at work in the previous 12 months. The Employers Forum on Age has said that 200 claims a month were now being lodged with the Tribunals Service and increasing rapidly.
Therefore, is business torn between realising that older (mature) workers are the answer and an emotional rejection of the inevitable? What do recruitment and HR executives think? Well, I believe that the prospect of legions of mature workers fills them with horror! Why, because their income streams will slow down, as older workers do no move from job to job. Older staff are more loyal and reliable than younger workers (despite all the worries about failing health, older employees take less sick leave than younger ones and most cases mature people are fitter and have a positive attitude to life.
UK schools and hospitals are already showing the strain of catering for an influx of younger workers from Eastern Europe. There is an issue with the language and illnesses that our hospitals cannot cater for!
However, the reality is that there are only a few businesses going all out to attract older people. It is time the majority woke up to the pending crisis. In fact, the recruitment of older workers is now so critical that it merits the introduction of positive discrimination. There is so much prejudice that I would argue for positive discrimination - for example, giving older workers more rights on part-time working. It has to be understood that these days older workers may also be caring for even older relatives as there are no care homes to take them on board.
Positive discrimination is controversial, but we have to consider the major talent shortage facing us over the next 20 years plus. Time, is not on our side, so we all need to take action on the older workers and also train the few younger people into jobs that are needed for us all to survive.
We need to plan ahead to defuse the `demographic time bomb` before it is to late.