Older people in the workforce (2)
Clearly, when older people do heavy physical work, their age may affect their productivity. But other skills may increase with age, including many that are crucial for good management, such as an ability to handle people diplomatically, to run a meeting or to spot a problem before it blows up. Peter Hicks, who co-ordinates OECD* work on the policy implications of ageing, says that plenty of research suggests older people are paid more because they are worth more.
And the virtues of the young may be exaggerated. ‘The few companies that have kept on older workers find they have good judgement and their productivity is good,’ says Peter Peterson, author of a recent book on the impact of ageing. ‘Besides, their education standards are much better than those of today’s young high-school graduates.’ Companies may say that older workers are not worth training because they are reaching the end of their working lives; in fact, young people tend to switch jobs so frequently that they offer the worst returns on training. The median age for employer-driven training is the late 40s and early 50s, and this training goes mainly to managers.
*OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development