Aged over 34? Your only hope is to become an 'off-peak icon'

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The Independent Online

Once thirtysomethings could look forward to promotion at work and increased salaries as their experience was recognised by employers.

Once thirtysomethings could look forward to promotion at work and increased salaries as their experience was recognised by employers.

Now they are regarded as "off peak" and are likely to lose out on jobs and training opportunities, says a report into age discrimination.

The careers adviser Pitman Training found twice as many workers in their "peak period" of 25 to 34 received training as those who have now apparently passed their best. It praised off-peak icons such as Tom Jones, who staged a successful comeback at the age of 59, Clint Eastwood and Bobby Robson, appointed manager of Newcastle United at 66.

The report found one in 10 UK employers discriminates on age when recruiting and promoting staff, and older workers earn on average £1,250 a year less than their colleagues in administrative, secretarial and IT positions.

James O'Brien, group operations director of Pitman Training, said: "It's often a vicious circle for off-peak employees. They need to prove their value with qualifications, but employers are simply not investing in their skills."

The report said ageism was still a big issue despite the Government's Voluntary Code of Practice on Age Diversity, which encourages employers to make job decisions based solely on people's ability.

Bernice Weston, the founder of Weightwatchers UK whose new venture, Agepower, is geared towards empowering the over-fifties, said she had hundreds of complaints of ageism from people in their thirties. "It is a particular problem in technology and finance," she said. "When we were looking for older people to teach computers to the over-50s we were inundated by people of 34 and 35 saying they were classed as old in their fields.

"In America it became illegal to mention age in a job advert 33 years ago but you can still do it in this country and we have to fight to stop that."

A spokeswoman for B&Q, which used to run a store staffed by over-fifties, said 15 per cent of its entire workforce was over that age. "Older people seem to have a better basic level of DIY because they have lived in their houses longer but they also tend to have good people skills," she said. "We are looking to take on more older people. We have customers of all ages so we like to have staff of all ages."

Last September, the Employers Forum on Age (EFA)exposed the Government's voluntary code as ineffective, showing two out of three employers had no intention of changing the way they operated.

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