At the beginning of 2012, the Swedish prime minister announced a change for Swedes and extended their working life by another ten years, until the age of 75. A growing number of Swedes also want to work after the age of 65. However, there is strong age discrimination in the Swedish labour market.
In a recent international survey of 30,000 companies in 28 countries, Sweden is at the bottom of the list when it comes to attracting and retaining older people at work. A S wedish survey of 1000 people aged 18 to65 also showed that age awareness in the labour market has increased in the past five years.
One in three job seekers today feels that their age is a problem. In addition, a majority of employers believe that older people learn slower than younger, although this has been disputed by a new report from Swedish Work Environment Authority.
PA claims that the existing attitude towards older workers is devastating for the following reasons:
- Sweden need more gainfully employed, not more reteired, people
- Swedes want to work after the age of 65. The number of gainfully employed
over 65 has increased by 80 percent since 2004.
The government is well aware of the problem. But labour market initiatives, such as lower pension costs and skills development for older people, have no effect when age discrimination and attitudes towards older people are as negative as they are in Sweden. More importantly, radical changes on the employer side are necessary. It requires a cultural shift in the Swedish business community.
In particular, companies should invest in understanding the needs of their customers better. Citizens over 60 are the fastest growing consumer group. And who would best address and understand those needs – a 25 year old employee or one above 60?
Do not forget to take advantage of the skills you have and mapping the skills needed to support a wholehearted customer focus!
Anna Giertz Skablova and Yngve Ralph are HR experts at PA Consulting Group
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