Hire more over-50s to ease staff crisis, Jersey businesses told

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JERSEY’s recruitment crisis could be eased if over-50s stayed in employment for longer, a senior minister and the Island’s Chamber of Commerce have said.

Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel and Chamber chief executive Murray Norton were among those to respond to data from the UK indicating a reluctance among employers to consider the merits of older recruits.

Deputy Morel called on employers to be ‘happy to employ people at an older age’, while Mr Norton said they were hearing of older Islanders leaving the workforce before retirement owing to post-pandemic lifestyle changes.

Jersey Farming Conference 2022 ‘Farming Matters’ Deputy Kirsten Morel Picture: JON GUEGAN. (35311642)

In a recent speech, UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said there were almost 300,000 fewer Britons in employment than before the pandemic, warning firms they would find it difficult to grow if they had insufficient staff.

Mr Norton said that many sectors in Jersey were experiencing mounting difficulties in recruitment, compounded by workforce shortages in the UK, the effects of Brexit and the high cost of accommodation faced by potential recruits.

He said: ‘Anecdotally, we hear of over-50s making lifestyle changes post-Covid which involve stepping out of the workforce, although hard data is difficult to find.

‘The incentive to broaden the demographic of those in the workforce and value the experience and knowledge of those over 50 has never been greater.’

Murray Norton..Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (35311639)

Deputy Morel said all Islanders could continue to learn by remaining engaged with the workforce.

‘Work can be social and it gives us purpose,’ he said. ‘So we need to have an Island where employers are happy to employ people at an older age and where Islanders are happy to work at an older age as well and see it as something they can enjoy rather than as that mundane trudge.

‘The only thing that stops us being economically active is health – if you are in good health then it is of value to the whole community that you continue to work.

‘It doesn’t have to be full-time – it can be mornings only, or three days a week, but we do need employers and people seeking to be employed or to set up their own business, to accept that they can do that at any stage of their lives as long as they are healthy and capable of doing it.’

Tina Palmer, director of ASL Recruitment, said her company had successfully placed lots of candidates in their 60s and 70s into both permanent and temporary positions.

‘Many people are having to work for longer for various reasons,’ she said. ‘Mostly it’s financial, but you also have people who want to stay working for their mental health, or to “give something back” after long careers in finance or business.

‘Having a mix of ages makes the workforce more diverse, with older employees acting as mentors, and I think employers collectively need to be a bit more creative.’

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