Ageism in the workplace

Ageism in the workplace came under the spotlight at a conference for training providers and employers in the West Midlands.

Jane Barmer, development manager for Age UK, was one of a host of speakers addressing equality at work.

She told more than 100 delegates at Banks's Stadium that while youth unemployment was currently a great concern a big problem was unemployment among people aged over 50.

She said: "Once older people lose their jobs the more at risk they are from long-term unemployment and the harder they find it to retrain. Yet employers need to recognise people have transferable skill and among older people there is huge capital.”

The conference, organised by BCTG, also tackled gender issues and heard from representatives of Wolverhampton-based Gender Matters, accompanied by a performance from Zip Theatre. Delegates also heard advice from ACAS and a motivational speech by Gary Skyner, Britain's second thalidomide drug victim.

The 51-year-old from Liverpool, has carved out a successful career in comedy as well as notching up a string of achievements including a law degree and pilots' licence in spite of his disability.

Chris Luty, BCTG director, said: "The message was loud and clear that training providers and employers have got to take equality and diversity seriously. When it comes to age it is a well-documented fact that we have an increasing older population, and that population has a lot of talent and experience, which employers can benefit from. At the same time trainers have to encourage older people to shift a commonly held view that they are ‘too old' to learn anything new.

"And we had a perfect example in Gary Skyner who is genuine proof that no matter how old or young you or what your disability is, if you want to achieve something you can.

Taking part in the Equality and Diversity conference were l-r Dennis Ffrench (cor) from Wolverhampton-based Zip Theatre, comedian Gary Skyner and Jane Barmer from Age UK


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