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Employers should ignore older workers at their peril

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Ive been banging on for months about the skills time bomb thatll blow up in our faces if we dont deal with youth unemployment and it looks like were finally starting to see some positive news as more young people are getting into work.

Whats equally pleasing, at the other end of the age scale, is the increasing number of older employees that are part of the countrys workforce. According to government figures from earlier in the month a record number of older workers are in employment after a big increase in recent years.

Apparently almost nine million people over the age of 50 are now in work, which is almost a third of the workforce and a rise of 8.5 percent since 1992. Of these, around 1.1million are aged 65 and over thats twice as many as there were in the early 90s.

At Pimlico Plumbers 20 percent of the workforce are aged over 50 and we have a few who are in the 70+ bracket including 82-year-old Young Eric in our transport team, who handles my Bentley on the streets of the capital like it’s a Smart Car, and my 72-year-old PA, Mario.

These guys never cease to amaze me. Their stamina, commitment and lust for life are second to none and they give their all, whatever they do. You want proof Well, later this week Mario is heading off to Africa to run the 156 mile, six-day Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert through blistering 100u02daF heat, carrying a 10kg backpack!

Hes doing it to raise money for St Guys & St Thomas Hospital in London, which is a fantastic cause (his Just Giving page is www.justgiving.com/mario-rebelletto2 by the way). But whether it’s running over sand dunes or sorting out my diary, it doesnt matter. He does it all to the highest standard and, in my experience, thats a constant with most older workers.

They are a tremendous asset to a business. Not only from the lifetime of skills and expertise theyve amassed, but also their ability to work closely with younger guys to pass on the know-how and share their experience.

Get these two things working in tandem and then you’re onto a winner. Employers should ignore older workers at their peril. They can only add value to a business and are an essential piece of the jigsaw that is an effective workforce.

Creating employment is one of the greatest pleasures that any business owner can have. It doesnt matter whether it’s an apprenticeship or giving someone the chance of a new career later in life. As Ive always said, if they can do the job and Ive got a position available then the world is their oyster!

Charlie Mullins is CEO and founder of Pimlico Plumbers

Related: How employers can accommodate an ageing workforce

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