Many MPs are unaware of the barriers facing older workers, a survey has revealed.
The survey, carried out by The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), questioned 88 MPs about their experiences of age and employment issues in their constituencies and only 39% were aware of barriers such as lack of access to training, lack of suitable employment to match skills, forced retirement, the impact of migrant workers and age discrimination.
The results also showed that 83% admitted that more training and information about issues concerning the ageing workforce were needed; whilst 62% felt that population ageing, skills needs and the employment of older people were all issues that were affecting the local economies of their constituencies. Around the same number reported that their constituents have raised issues with them about direct and indirect discrimination.
Only 39% stated that businesses, unions and those involved in the labour market understood the importance to engage older people in the workforce. A whopping 93% of respondents said they would appreciate more guidance on demographic change and how labour markets could be made to work for older people.
Chris Ball, chief executive of TAEN, said that it is encouraging that MPs say they want to learn more about these issues. “The government wants to increase the overall employment rate of people of working age from 75% to 80%, yet in our survey MPs report that little is being done to address a range of issues around age discrimination, demographics and skills shortages. There are variations, of course, with some areas of the country appearing to be more acutely affected than others but the overall verdict appears to be ‘could do better’.”
Only 41% of responding MPs had held any discussions with employers in their constituency about age discrimination and whether they had found ‘red tape’ a burden.
“This survey of MPs suggests that older workers’ needs are not being addressed and their potential contribution to the local economy is not properly understood or valued,” said Paul Cann, director of policy and external relations at Help the Aged. “This is a waste of talent, energy and wisdom. As a society we should be striving towards a workforce that embraces older workers and the benefits they can bring – both to business and the wider economy.”