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Misconceptions about older workers must be dispelled to plug skills gap

Misconceptions about older workers are stopping organisations from making the most of a highly skilled and experienced group. It's particularly critical in light of the huge talent and skills gap up ahead.

Research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) found that older workers (aged 51 to 70) scored consistently highly across the majority of skills and attributes assessed, being top scorers by age group for occupation-specific knowledge and skills, loyalty to the organisation, and ability to cope with setbacks.

But they aren't perceived to have the potential to progress, defined as 'promotion or increased responsibility in the next three years'.

Appetite for development

Older workers themselves have an appetite for development and progression, according to the research. But the misconception does not reflect the positive attributes of older workers and the experience and skill they can bring to the workplace, the report said.

It said that dispelling generational myths was an important first step to capitalising on and developing older talent.

The issue is urgent. Official figures estimate that 12 million jobs will be created in the next decade, with only 7 million young people available to fill these positions.

Among the recommendations it suggested were recognising the benefits of an age diverse workforce; properly acknowledging the value of experience; creating an alumni network to enable better knowledge transmission across generations; understanding that everyone can keep learning; and providing training and development opportunities to experienced workers.

Acas publications and services

Acas can visit your workplace and raise staff awareness on issues surrounding age, age discrimination and diversity; see Equality and diversity: how Acas can help.

Acas also offers practical training on Age and the repeal of the Default Retirement Age, Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010, essential Skills for supervisors, Work/life balance and Flexible working.

If you have questions about Retirement or need free, impartial advice on any employment relations issue, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100, or consult Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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