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At the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, we believe in the value of employers utilising an equal workforce to best suit their diverse range of customers, service users and community. Equality and fairness in the workplace are important, and this is at the heart of the Charter. Our February Supporters’ Network Event had the theme ‘Recruitment Through the Ages’, focusing specifically on the barriers that people face when entering employment due to their age. To discuss the challenges faced by young workers we invited speakers from Greater Manchester’s Hidden Talent, a voluntary youth employment programme which provides support for young people aged 18-25 who are struggling to get into employment, education or training. Then, to explore the difficulties faced by an older workforce, speakers from The Centre for Ageing Better and The Greater Manchester Ageing Hub came to speak about providing opportunities for people to excel in employment in later life.

Greater Manchester’s Hidden Talent works with young people, helping them to tackle the common barriers to employment – such as a lack of work experience, lack of qualifications and low self-esteem. Ben Reese, the Employer Engagement & Communications Officer working on the programme, spoke to Supporters about young people’s perceptions of recruitment processes. Audience participation revealed that almost all the Supporters present had experienced over-reaching job specifications, concern regarding interview attire, and had felt ill represented due to interview techniques. These concerns can be more keenly felt by younger applicants who, without work experience, may not know what to expect in terms of application and interview processes. Job descriptions can be misleading, with use of workplace jargon overcomplicating roles and discouraging potential applicants.

Scott Bradley, a volunteer for GM’s Hidden Talent Programme, talked about their experience with job applications and emphasized how they would excel more with alternative interview methods being offered, or with knowing questions in advance. Reducing the stress placed upon applicants in interviews may encourage them to present themselves more effectively, and as a result give them a better and fairer chance of securing employment. Allowing candidates to show their full potential at the interview stage makes the recruitment process more inclusive and effective, benefitting employers and applicants alike. For more information on adapting your recruitment processes to get the most out of young people, download the GM Hidden Talent Employer Toolkit here.

The Centre for Ageing Better is a charitable foundation that is committed to transforming later lives, aiming to solve issues surrounding employment, housing, health and community to transform later lives. Kim Chaplain, the Associate Director for Work at The Centre of Ageing Better, spoke to Supporters about the issues with employee retention among workers over 50, with over half of people in the UK ending employment before state pension age. There needs to be an emphasis on employers recognising the positive contribution that older workers make to the workforce, to ensure fair recruitment and training practices are commonplace across all age groups. Multi-generational teams are valuable in bringing together different perspectives and specialist knowledge across a broad range of spectrums, giving companies an edge when it comes to the work produced. However, in Greater Manchester alone nearly 60% of residents between the ages of 50-64 are economically inactive, highlighting the potential for several workforces to be lacking in this specific range of talent. To find out more about the importance of a workforce that is inclusive and fair to all, check out The Centre for Ageing Better’s website here.

The final talk continued with the topic of an ageing workforce and was from Matt Ainsworth, the Assistant Director for the GM Ageing Hub. Matt spoke to Supporters about the importance of increasing economic participation amongst the over-50’s. To do this, fair and flexible working practices must be maintained to encourage an age positive culture in work. Importance placed on career development for all ages, consideration of needs regarding health and flexible hours, and fair recruitment practices could create a workplace where diversity is celebrated and sought after as opposed to overlooked. To learn more about the GM Ageing Hub and their project to try and improve the lives of older residents of Greater Manchester, visit their page on the GMCA website here. Celebrating diversity in the workplace marks an effective employer – to learn more about fair recruitment practices in a broader sense click here to find guidance and codes of practice to help create better workplaces for your staff.