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We Must Celebrate Our Older Workers

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ELDERLY LONELINESS
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It was very encouraging to see centenarian Jim Clement celebrated in the news last week for still working in his office job, in the ongoing battle to change the perception of older workers in the UK.

Seeing Jim in action was a real inspiration and a perfect example of someone that has defied retirement and proven that even at the grand old age of 100, he is still a valuable asset to his employer.

He highlights the benefits that a more mature workforce brings to a business. As I read today that the number of self employed over 50s has soared dramatically since 2008, greatly encouraging news, it's always good to hear about people that have gone out on their own.

Yet, is this upturn because older workers have been forced into self-employment just because employers won't give them a chance, favouring younger employees in the financial downturn?

The government's common sense decision to scrap the compulsory retirement age in 2011 and let people freely work beyond 65 was one of the most rational legislations ever passed. However there is still a lot of work to do on changing the perception of older workers and employers' attitudes towards them.

As we all know, in the future people will have to keep on working way past the traditional retirement age. The state pension age is due to increase to 67 by 2028 and future rises would be linked to life expectancy.

Many employers might think that older staff are ready to slow down in the workplace or more likely to have time off sick, but I have found this not to be the case and in fact quite the opposite. Older workers are still ambitious and take great pride in their work.

What's more, younger workers need more experienced employees to help them learn. In fact, what they can teach new employees about attitude and commitment is worth more than anything you'll find in a training manual.

To simply throw away all the experience and skills that an older worker brings to the workplace just because they have reached a certain age has always been a strange notion to me and one which makes no business sense whatsoever.

I have always been an advocate of older workers and since I started Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 have always appreciated what they bring to the company as employees.

There is no substitute for experience and that's why 20% of my workforce is over 55, with some approaching 80, and are hugely respected by colleagues and customers.