New Pensions Minister Ian McCartney promised to be a national ambassador for the skills and needs of older people today.
He told the Employers Forum on Age that he would tackle age discrimination and champion better services for the over 50s at national and local levels.
Mr McCartney said: “Older people have a lot to offer employers and yet a third of people aged between 50 and pension age are not working.”
“Employers agree with me that the benefits of employing older workers are significant, for example:
- High retention rates;
- Innovative and flexible staff working as part of a team;
- Lower absenteeism;
- Reliability, commitment and dedication; and
- A high level of productivity.
“Nobody would dare suggest that people like Helen Mirren and Paul McCartney are over the hill because they are over 50. Reaching the age of 50 should not be a milestone for the wrong reasons.
“Many employers value the experience and commitment of older workers but there are still too many who make judgements based on age, not ability to do the job.
“Older employees have a lifetime of experience and are an invaluable resource that must not be wasted. We need to see a major shift in our working culture that recognises old can be gold.”
He said the new Department of Work and Pensions would provide a joined-up approach to improving the life of older people at work and in retirement.
Mr McCartney said: “There are three stages to our strategy for older people – helping them stay in work, helping them return to work and sustaining their quality of life in retirement.
“Among my main priorities will be tackling age discrimination in the workplace and modernising services for older people at national and local levels.”