April 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Another heart-rending story in the Guardian this week featuring the plight of the unemployed over 50s. The story focused on a few particular life stories to highlight that:
“for those over 50 and out of work there is little sign of any recovery in job prospects. Yesterday’s official data showed 21,000 more over-50s joined the long-term unemployed in the three months to February. In total, 143,000 people in that age bracket were out of work for more than 12 months – the highest total since the summer of 1998.”
56-year-old IT professional Kevin Forbes lost his job at a City investment bank five years ago and has been out of work ever since. In the meantime he has applied for 4,700 jobs and been invited to just two interviews.
So what’s going on? Bearing in mind that the economy has not been in recession for all that time and that Kevin’s story is a disturbingly common example of the situation of many older people, the answer has to be ageism and discrimination by employers against older people.
Such attitudes, as we know, are deep-seated, often unconscious and almost impossible to legislate against. What is needed is a greater awareness of the realities of the situation and some practical suggestions of how things might be improved.
On TV we currently have the Business Inspector and have had a succession of Hotel and Country House Inspectors and the like in shows where real, experienced entrepreneurs point out to failing businesses the error of their ways and strategies for improvement. Such shows are lightweight entertainment with the facts presumably being heavily edited for ultimate “good TV”. However, they can be thought-provoking.
Perhaps something similar featuring case studies where real unemployed older people come up against real employers while being mentored by a real HR professional or manager would be helpful in demonstrating the reality of the situation to employers and job-seekers alike and what both sides might do to help overcome it.
It’s not much of a suggestion, but God knows, something has to be done to bring about attitudinal change.