Excuses not to hire older staff

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The Independent Online
From Mr R. G. Powell

Sir: A few weeks ago I noticed a job advertised in the local press by a large life assurance company. Age limits of 22-35 were indicated.

I wrote to the company asking why it found it necessary to discriminate in this matter for a job that could be done equally well by an older person. The reply was almost unbelievable and very insulting to us over-forties.

In brief, it said "older" recruits were not capable of absorbing information given to them on training courses and that they would have problems adapting to the ways of the company and the pressures of the job. The company added insult to injury by stating that an older recruit would not have sufficient time to "repay" the cost of training.

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that older staff are any less intelligent or less capable of being trained than their younger counterparts. Often the reverse is true. We over-40s have experience of life which is invaluable.

A 40-year-old recruit would have 20 years to repay the cost of training. Long enough for any company, I would say.

The excuses put up by this company are very thin, but its views are those used by many companies in the financial sector and elsewhere to reduce staffing levels. Keeping the workforce young has the benefit of smaller salary bills and, more significantly, reduced employer pension contributions, thus enhancing profits for the chosen few left in employment and for directors and shareholders.

Ageism must be stopped by means of legislation on a similar basis to that of the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Australia and a host of other countries worldwide.

Yours faithfully,

R. G. Powell


22 June