Gen X workers who are 45 and older may be at the greatest risk during the global unemployment crisis. A new report suggests the lingering Covid-19 pandemic is adding to the already existing challenges for older workers.
The report cites the rapid digital adoption many companies underwent during the pandemic, which accelerated the automation of jobs and worsened so-called “ageism.” That, the report concludes, makes it harder for mid-career workers to land jobs.
The global study, entitled “Meeting the World’s Midcareer Challenge,” found that entry-level and intermediate workers between 45 and 60 face increased barriers. Those barriers include bias from hiring managers and a reluctance from some workers to learn new skills.
One study author says it shows “a demographic that is absolutely in need and it’s very clear that once you reach a certain age, it just becomes much harder to access a job opportunity.”
The study, conducted between March and May of this year, surveyed 3,800 people, both employed and unemployed, between the ages of 18 and 60 years old. The study also surveyed 1,404 hiring managers from seven countries.
The results from countries as diverse as the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Italy found the same thing: 45-to 60-year-olds are the most overlooked employee bracket. The study found that over the past six years, mid-career individuals have represented a consistently high percentage of those who are considered “long-term unemployed.”
Most disturbing, the research found that hiring managers considered those 45-years-old and above to be the worst prospects in terms of application readiness, fitness, and previous experience. Included in those concerns were a perceived reluctance among older workers to try new technologies, an inability to learn new skills, and difficulty working with other generations. According to the same hiring managers, those findings counter evidence that older workers often outperform their younger peers. Nearly 90% of hiring managers said those 45 years and above have been as good as or better than younger employees. Part of the bias, the study says, could be the tendency among hiring managers to hire those within their own age group. Training could provide one solution to the issue. Still, the report also highlighted a reluctance to pursue training among job seekers who are 45 years and above.
The study puts forth several recommendations for companies, businesses, and governments grappling with workforce shortages. Among those are linking training programs directly to employment opportunities and providing incentives to support workers who are 45 years and older and hesitant to participate in training.
The study also recommends changing hiring practices to reduce potential age biases while better assessing the potential of older job candidates by utilizing demonstration-based exercises.
“Intergenerational workforces must be a reality that every company seeks to put in place,” the study concludes.