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Forget prejudices about age

Our retirement age is rising because we are living longer and longer. At the same time, an increasing number of people over 60 are impacted by unemployment and have difficulty getting a foothold in the labour market again. ‘We need to dispel myths and recognise experienced employees’, says Vice-President of Finansforbundet, Steen Lund Olsen.

3. Sep 2021
4 min
Af Carsten Rasmussen
cr@finansforbundet.dk

‘We want to support those who can and want to stay in the labour market longer.

This is what Vice-President of Finansforbundet Steen Lund Olsen says, who is looking forward to the financial sector making room to talk about later careers, so that both employers and individual employees can see themselves staying in the workplace a little longer.

‘There is a conversation about later careers that we need to have in public and in the workplace’, says Steen Lund Olsen, who continues that it should be an attractive option to continue working beyond retirement age. We have to sharpen our focus on what it takes for the last 10-15 years of working life to be good years.

We need to work longer

Our labour market is changing, and there are fewer people of active working age. Smaller groups of young people are entering the labour market, and they have to take up the gauntlet after the huge baby boomer generation.

Finansforbundet is in agreement with a later retirement age, as we are living longer, and the Vice-President sees it as a “societal duty” to ensure that more people have a long and productive working life. But the shift from talking about seniors and retirement to instead starting a dialogue about later careers demands that we discuss our notion of age in the labour market. Steen Lund Olsen says:

‘To a much greater degree than we do today, we must recognise the enormous resources that experienced employees possess.’

Time out of work

Despite the fact that we as a society need more people to stay in the labour market longer, we have unfortunately recently seen trends that counteract this.

We see signs that it is already difficult to land a new job if you are hit by unemployment when you are in your 50s. And if you become unemployed when you are over 60, there is an imminent danger that you will be unemployed for a very long time’, says Steen Lund Olsen, pointing to the fact that unemployment and long-term unemployment are generally higher for 60-64 year olds than for the group under 60 in the financial sector.

It is also true that for members of Finansforbundet’s unemployment insurance fund, FTFa, unemployment and long-term unemployment for 60-64 year olds is even higher than for the rest of the labour market.

‘At the same time as employers are talking about a shortage of labour, there are experienced and educated people over 60 years old who are affected by unemployment and who have difficulty getting back to work’, says Steen Lund Olsen, adding that the period of Covid-19 has exacerbated this.

Age discrimination

A research project from the University of Copenhagen, supported by Velliv Foreningen, has documented that prejudices and myths about age make things more difficult for mature people in the labour market.

In the financial sector, an employer might on the one hand think that seniors are slow, weak, inflexible and bad at being adaptable, but on the other hand, the same employer might highly value the seniors they have hired themselves and want to keep them as long as possible.

‘Both employers and legislators are shouting that we have a shortage of labour, but I simply cannot believe that these people do not have any qualifications that allow them to fit into a company’, says Steen Lund Olsen, adding that we have also ingrained it in ourselves that people stop with age:

‘We need to work on our views on age and seniors.’

If we compare ourselves with other EU countries, Danish 55-64-year-olds have a relatively high employment rate. But if we look at Sweden, they are far better at retaining citizens in the labour market.

Steen Lund Olsen is convinced that Denmark can make it just as attractive for more people to work a few extra years if we improve health conditions, level of education and working environment conditions.

 

More than one in five people are over 55 years old

22.3 per cent of the employees in Finanssektorens Arbejdsgiverforening’s member companies were 55 years or older in 2020.