Unsurprisingly, it’s the people just starting their careers and those approaching the autumn of their working lives - which for some organisations could be as early as 40-plus - who face most difficulty in securing new roles in the current job market.
With many organisations stripping away traditional middle management posts in favour of flatter structures, there are often a fair few casualties in older age groups.
The main driver for today’s younger age cohort would appear to be mostly about gaining important work experience through placements, internships and vacation jobs that relate quite closely to their chosen future career.
The main issue for those in the autumn of their careers is similar in terms of the reduced number of vacancies, but it is more about convincing employers of the currency and validity of their wisdom, experiences and skills. The issues facing the older age group will only increase as the workforce ages and moves towards an estimated one third being over 50 by 2020.
Some organisations have recognised the benefits of positively recruiting ‘older’ workers Tesco, B&Q, Barclays and BT, to name a few and in many cases the presence of a bit of grey hair can have a positive impact on younger colleagues and customers alike.
Why don’t more employers embrace this resource? What’s the real risk with older workers? Are they less flexible, less trainable, set in their ways?
I doubt it. Yet while we have clear age discrimination laws in this country, it still would appear to be an uphill battle for many older individuals to get themselves a fair hearing and a fair crack at a number of jobs on offer.
So what can you do if you are likely to be faced with these issues yourself? Well, the first thing would be to start with a skills audit. Ask yourself what you can do well and what you are really interested in. Think about transferring those skills to other businesses and other sectors. Consider where else you could operate.
Think about flexibility, not only in terms of working hours or location, but in having a portfolio of roles that go to make up your working week.
For those of you who might want to utilise a lifetime of knowledge and contacts, why not think about setting up your own businesses? There are many greying entrepreneurs unlocking potential new sources of revenue on a daily basis.
But above all, employers themselves need to think more deeply about this resource. Shouldn’t businesses be actively embracing grey hair and know-how?