LETTER: Age discrimination at work

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From Mr Don Macdonald

Sir: Jack O'Sullivan's article ("Keep young and employable", 9 February) perpetuates two myths: the first is that unemployment is worse for the over-42s, whereas the fact is that young people face up to three times the levels of unemployment of older people, and that, according to unpublished government research, they face a greater amount of discrimination over recruitment.

The second is that the demographic decline in numbers of 16-to 19-year- olds would lead to more jobs, whereas many new jobs are short-term or temporary which young single people cannot afford, unlike twin-income families, because of the troughs in earnings.

The dispossessed inner-city 16-year-olds, who leave school with no qualifications, who have problems with literacy, who have only the prospect of a second- rate government training scheme, do not get a hearing in the media. Age discrimination does exist, but the under-25s without qualifications have known this for the past decade, while the over-40s with a stake in society and something to lose are only now starting to feel the pressures.

Yours sincerely,

Don Macdonald

Chief Executive

Foyer Federation for Youth

London, E1

9 February