CAREERS: Firms shy from older applicants - Firms hiring young, dynamic staff may be missing out on the qualities older staff can bring - experience and loyalty. Now the government is trying to get employers to change their attitudes. Ian Cameron reports

For the experienced marketer, age discrimination can be a serious problem. Marketing directors aged between 36 and 45 years old represent only 33% of marketing directors, with the highest proportion under 35.

For the experienced marketer, age discrimination can be a serious

problem. Marketing directors aged between 36 and 45 years old represent

only 33% of marketing directors, with the highest proportion under

35.



This figure falls to 9% for the over 50s, according to Marketing’s 1999

AIM survey.



While anti-age-discrimination legislation is in place in the US, France

and Australia, ageism is not illegal in this country. In their search

for young, ’dynamic’ staff, many argue that employers may be missing out

on the experience, management skills and commitment of older staff.



Stephen Waghorne, sales director of Hemmingway Executives, which

recruits marketing and sales executives in the FMCG sector, says: ’Every

brief we get is looking for someone aged 28-32 even though age is often

a poor indicator of performance.’



Ian Irvin, managing director of management consultant MKA, agrees:

’Marketing and sales employers seem to believe that those over 40 do not

have the drive or motivation of younger staff.’



Rather than recruiting the best person for the job, regardless of age,

employers are often wary of mature candidates, who will likely face a

barrage of questions, such as how they will fit into a young workplace,

will they be motivated by the job, why are they not at a higher level by

their age.



However, Sven Olsen, managing director of Banks Hoggins O’Shea FCB,

believes most employers are put off older candidates because they can

command a higher salary. ’In our industry, experience is everything. But

when you are chasing costs the easiest, but most short-sighted act, is

to cut your experience levels.’



Age discrimination is not restricted to the marketing industry. In

November 1998, the government published a draft Code of Practice to

combat unfair age discrimination. The aim of the code, according to

employment minister Andrew Smith, is ’to challenge and encourage

employers to address the stereotyping of people’s abilities because of

age’.



A final version of the code is due this spring, accompanied by a press

and conference campaign.



The timing of the code owes much to the fact that, by next year, 35% of

the labour force will be over 45, increasing to 40% by 2010.



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