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

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

    Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

    $200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

    Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

    $125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

    Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

    Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture