Opinion

Ambition shouldn’t have a sell-by-date: Millions of over-50s feel unsupported

4 min read

14 August 2018

It is important in life to deliver the best results – to maximise on your assets. In terms of business, the most important asset a company has is often its people.

Assembling and creating a cohesive, committed and talented team can be the real difference between success and failure with employees at every level and stage of their career having a valuable input into the business’ achievements.

As anyone who knows me or has read my Real Business columns in the past, I am passionate about encouraging talented people to excel and further their careers. And age is never an issue.

I bring this up as I came across a report about businesses being urged to take more notice of older staff as a growing number of EU job seekers are steering clear of UK-based employment because of, surprise surprise, Brexit.

According to Arriva, millions of over-50s feel unsupported by employers, despite the fact they plan to retire later than they once hoped.

Apparently more than 6 million employees over the age of 50 plan to retire later than they thought they would a decade ago. But more than two fifths felt their career ambitions were not being taken seriously.

On the flip side, just 25% of those aged between 25 and 35 said they felt the same way.

I find this quite sad because ambition shouldn’t be stifled or have a sell-by-date just because someone celebrates their 50th birthday. The experience and expertise held by the over 50s should be harnessed, not ignored.

It is something we treasure at Pimlico Plumbers, with 20% of our workforce being over the age of 50.

They are an invaluable part of the business. Not only do they make an essential contribution in their everyday work, they also improve the cohesion of the workforce, sharing their knowledge and know-how with the colleagues.

I have placed apprenticeships at the heart of my future planning for the business, and am confident that we have one of the best training programmes in place to make sure our young people are armed with the skills and competencies to take their careers forward.

And the icing on the cake for their training is the opportunity to work alongside, and learn from, older colleagues who have been there, seen it and done it.

But having older workers is not just about helping develop the next generation. If their aspirations are nurtured then the contribution they make can be enhanced as can their own careers.

Just take my PA Mario. He retired from the civil service, but wasn’t ready to be put out to pasture. Mario has an insatiable desire to work that I was delighted to harness. In the years he has been with the business he has grasped the opportunity to learn new things and try different ways of working.

So if, as appears to be happening, one of the consequences of our doomed-to-failure exit from the European Union is that workers from the continent are shunning British job opportunities we have to think smart about how we plug the gap.

Maximising on the asset that is the over-50s workforce is a pretty good option.