“It does suggest that older workers are more committed to their employment and more likely to stay with their employers,” said Karen Charlesworth, head of research at Skillsmart Retail. “While more research is needed, focusing on this age group may be a key way of increasing the skills base in the industry.”
Some employers are already recognising the strengths older workers bring. “We do have a lot of over 50s working for us – we are the second biggest employer of older workers,” said a spokesman for Asda. “Older workers have good communication skills and are reliable and loyal.”
The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers was quick to emphasise the importance of employing a range of ages. “Usdaw has members of all ages and the most successful retailers recruit workers from all age groups – young, old and middle-aged,” said John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary.