The research on which this article is based examined the relationship between
attitudes towards older workers held by personnel managers and directors in
large organisations (500 or more employees) across virtually the whole range
of industrial sectors (excluding agriculture), and their employment practices.
The aims of the research were to explore the operation of workplace social
closure and the social construction of age in organisations, and to provide
practical information to better inform policy making towards older workers.
Analysis indicated that attitudes associated with recruitment, training and
promotion practices were: perceived trainability, creativity, cautiousness,
physical capabilities, the likelihood of having an accident, and ability to
work with younger workers. Attitudes which showed no relationship with
employment practices were: perceived productivity, reliability, ability to
adapt to new technology, interest in technological change and flexibility. It is
argued that these findings stress the need to target stereotypical attitudes
towards older workers if age barriers in employment are to be removed.
However, it is also argued that educational campaigns alone are likely to exert
only limited influence against a background of a long-term decline in
economic activity rates among older workers. The research also indicates that
future research studies need to take greater account of potential differences
between different groups of older workers.