As the government looks to get the economy firing on all cylinders, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been looking at fixing what he described recently as the UK’s “productivity puzzle”.
In a keynote speech, he suggested that older people may pose the answer and urged those who have retired early to go back to work.
“We will never harness the full potential of our country unless we unlock it for each and every one of our citizens,” Mr Hunt said.
So, let’s assume you’ve heard Mr Hunt’s rallying cry, you feel moved to get back in the workplace and you’ve already started going through the job ads.
You’re ready, willing and able to contribute to the economy, and feeling excited and eager about the opportunities that lie ahead.
But…then you find it’s impossible to get a job.
If that’s happened to you, you’re far from alone, as according to research by the CMI, just 42 per cent of employers are open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64.
Similarly, only 18 per cent of bosses said they are particularly open to hiring candidates aged 65 or above.
By contrast, 74 per cent said they were very open to hiring younger adults aged between 18 and 34.
This suggests there’s a big disconnect between the government and UK businesses when it comes to older people in the workplace.
As Ann Francke, chief executive of the CMI, has noted: “[That] points to both cultural and leadership failings in businesses of all sizes, and that needs to change.
“Unless those doing the hiring revisit their attitudes, older workers will continue to be excluded, just when the labour market needs them the most.”
If you’re keen to get back to work, you’ll know better than anyone that you possess considerable skills, experience and knowledge that could prove valuable to any employer.
But if the government’s ambition to get more economically inactive people back to work is to be achieved, it has to start with employers being willing to take them on.
Perhaps Mr Hunt’s call for older people to return to the labour market should also have been directed to employers, with the case for doing so clearly laid out to them.
We look forward to seeing what progress is made on this issue over the coming months.