Busting myths about older workers

Myths about older workers are common in society and very damaging. Here are some fascinating facts based on robust research and evidence. 

Myth: Some believe that older workers are more likely to be off sick 

Fact: Older workers are half as likely to take a sick day compared to their younger counterparts. Only a quarter of over 50’s took time off in 2014 due to ill-health compared to just under half of those aged 20-30

Myth: Older workers aren’t up to date with technology

Fact: Cisco research found no great correlation between age and confidence using technology – even less so for technology at work. The type of work people do is a much better predictor than age.

Fact: In the digital sector, 70% of start-ups founded by older workers lasted longer than three years, compared to only 28% of those created by younger entrepreneurs

Myth: Older workers cruise along and are not really interested in their career

Fact: 91% of older workers surveyed still wish to progress in their careers

Myth: There is no business benefit in training older workers

Fact: Organisations that provide a higher level of training to older workers retain their staff until a much later age, thereby reducing turnover costs.

Fact: Training spend for over the 50s is 50% less than for younger workers  


BITC Mythbusting Factsheet (March 2017)

Feldman, D. C. (2007) ‘Career mobility and career stability among older workers’, in Shultz, K.S. & Adams, G.A. (eds.) Aging and work in the 21st century. Mahwar, N.J.: Erlbaum, pp. 179-197.

Gratton, L. and Scott, A. (2016) The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. London: Bloomsbury Business.

McNair, S., et al. (2004) ‘Changing work in later life: a study of job transitions’. Guildford: Centre for Research into the Older Worker.

Newman, B. K. (1995) ‘Career Change for Those Over 40: Critical Issues and Insight’, The Career Development Quarterly, 44(1), pp. 64-66.

Office of National Statistics – Summary of Employment and Labour Market Statistics (January 2019) 

Post, C., et al. (2012) ‘Pathways to retirement: A career stage analysis of retirement age expectations’, Human Relations, 66(1), pp. 87-112.

Watts, J., et al. (2015) ‘Mid Life Career Review: Final Report to the Department for Business and Skills’. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales).

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