Let’s Challenge the Stereotype of the Older Slacker

I read with enormous concern the front page media headline last week talking about  ‘Older Slackers’. I wonder if the media knows the lengths that people over 50 have to go through to even get a CV looked at, let alone an interview, training or promotion prospects.

Many people will look at the headline and form an opinion without ever reading the content.
In 2008, even before this current recession had taken a stronghold, Age Concern London ran a campaign: A Wealth of Experience – Valuing London’s Older Workers. At that point there were 108,000 Londoners over 50 who wanted to work. Even at that time, our research concluded that the number of over-50s in London who wanted to work was rising. We heard stories of people aged 50+ sending hundreds of job applications off, but having success in getting an interview only when their age was omitted.

The situation since then can only have got worse, with rising unemployment, redundancies and cut backs on training and support.

People aged 50 and over do have a wealth of experience and knowledge, they also have commitment, staying power and loyalty. It’s hard enough already for people in this age bracket to get an equal footing in the job market and to get recognition in the workplace, without labels of this sort adding to their difficulties.

I would challenge the media to put its power to better use and instead explore the plight of those desperate for work in later years, including those who need to work to support ageing parents in their 80s and over with ever increasing care bills. Use your power instead to challenge this stereotyping and help us make a difference.

Sam Mauger

Sam Mauger has been working in the third sector for 14 years, managing partnerships with borough based and regionally based statutory authorities and independent Age Concerns / Age UKs as well as other charitable organisations. She has managed the large scale operational delivery of health and social care in the voluntary sector and has been instrumental in developing consultation with older people to support policy and service delivery development in London.

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One thought on “Let’s Challenge the Stereotype of the Older Slacker

  1. My experience is that older people are more reliable; more loyal; more committed; wiser; better educated; have better soft skills – use their experience to communicate properly, accurately and politely.
    I really think there’s a job to be done to reverse this erroneous view that older people add less value in the workplace. As has been the case through the ages, and still the case in many cultures, the young realise the wisdom of their elders, respect them and learn from them.

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