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80% of over 50s have experienced ‘ageist rejection’

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Jobless - Photo Central Audiovisual Library, European Commission

Four out of five people over 50 feel their job applications have been rejected solely because of their age, and nearly half say employer perceptions are their major barrier, according to new research.

Yet 48% of the 3000 over 50s surveyed hope to work on past the State Pension Age (SPA) according to the research by Reed Consulting and Age Concern, a major shift from the 9.2% of people over SPA age currently in work.

Results also revealed that one in ten hope to retire before they reach 60 and over a third plan to retire aged 60-65, a quarter plan to leave work between 65 and 70 while 23% intend to work on past retirement age for as long as possible until forced to stop.

Worryingly, one in three of the respondents believes ageism begins to prejudice work opportunities below the age of 45.

In a new report, Making Age Work for London, Age Concern London estimates that more than a quarter of a million Londoners aged over 50 and under official retirement levels are currently unemployed but available for work. This represents a large pool of under-utilised skills and experience available to the London economy – equivalent to a full 7% of the London workforce.

“Older people are much keener to work on beyond retirement age than in the past. What’s more nine out of ten are committed to further training to ensure their skills meet employers needs,” said James Reed of Reed Consulting.

“The major barrier to fully using these skills appears to be out-moded perceptions of what older workers can contribute. Yet employers simply cannot afford to maintain such perceptions into the future, as skills shortages accelerate and demographic shifts drastically cut down the number of younger workers available,” he warned.

“If the commitment of older workers is fully embraced by employers, it will also transform UK economic prospects. Currently only just over 9% of people work beyond State Pension Age. If this percentage does not change by 2031 there will be three non-workers for every worker, compared to a ratio of 1.1 non-worker to every worker at the moment.”

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