Joia Shillingford: British employers ought to take a harder look at the talent they are dismissing

In today's Britain, you can't get a job if you are too young, too old or too female. Does this mean Britons are unadventurous employers? And, if so, does this help to explain why our economy is so sluggish?

If you can only recognise talent when it comes in a predictable package, the inevitable conclusion is that you are probably missing out on a lot of it. Talent that could come up with new ideas or ways of doing things and create new business opportunities.

Typically, when the economy is slowing, disproportionate numbers of discriminated-against groups get the chop. So to see who these groups are, it is helpful to look at the latest unemployment figures.

For example, the figures from the Office for National Statistics show that of the 118,000 who became unemployed during the three months to the end of November, 40 per cent were in the 50-and-above age group. This takes unemployment in this age group to a 17-year high of 432,000.

Youth unemployment and female unemployment also hit record highs of 1.4 million and 1.13million respectively. The figure for women is the highest since records began in 1992.

With pensions being eroded, it goes without saying that many of those in the 50-plus age group need to work. Likewise young people, who need to get that first job on their CV to make them hireable in future.

It is perhaps easier to understand why employers might reject a young person with no track record, no references, a poor attitude and a mobile-phone habit – though they are by no means all like this. But it is harder to understand why they would not choose a more experienced person.

Why should 50-year-olds with 10-20 years more experience than 30-to 40-year-olds have such a hard time getting jobs? Surely in today's job market, older people can be hired more cheaply, making them a bargain that could really benefit a business.

It just does not seem logical not to give these folk a chance. But can they really cut it? Well the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, is in this age group and while he has not fixed all of America's problems, he has managed the nation professionally through one of its toughest periods.

So next time you see the CV of someone you reckon is in their fifties, remember that if you pick the right person, you could be getting a superstar. And if they are female, even better! Surely, most of the reasons given for discrimination against women in the workforce apply less and less the older they get. They are less likely to get pregnant, less likely to need time off to look after children and less likely to have an attitude problem.

I'd love to meet some of Britain's most adventurous employers, with successful businesses and diverse workforces. But I suspect, they would probably turn out to be the UK offices of successful American firms.

Meanwhile if you are newly unemployed, one way to save money might be to make daytime the new nighttime. It is often cheaper to do stuff during the day, whether it is to go out to lunch with a mate or go to the theatre. And you will be less tempted to spend too much on alcohol or get a taxi home.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

    Sales Executive

    £20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

    Payroll & Accounts Assistant

    £20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week