Ten local authorities have indicated their commitment to older workers by becoming the first councils in England and Wales to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge.
Councils, including those serving Leeds, Cardiff, the Isle of Wight and the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, have committed to improving the recruitment, retention and training of older employers by joining the free nationwide programme.
In total, the ten authorities have more than 40,000 employees between them.
Established late last year by the Centre for Ageing Better, the Age-friendly Employer Pledge is a programme for employers who recognise the importance and value of older workers.
More than 170 employers have already signed the pledge, including Natural England, Oliver Bonas, Virgin Hotels, Zurich Insurance and Ipsos UK, and government departments for Work and Pensions, Business and Trade and the Treasury.
Pledge-signing local authorities span various sizes and profiles, including urban unitary and rural district councils.
In addition, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), the UK’s leading membership network for public sector and local government professionals, has also signed the pledge.
The Age-friendly Employer Pledge was launched to help overcome ageism in the workplace and assist employers in resolving skills shortages and record vacancy rates.
The Centre for Ageing Better believes with an ageing population and ever longer working lives, workers in their 50s and 60s are key to filling these gaps.
Local authorities signing the pledge have committed to taking at least one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers.
Signatories also commit to identifying a senior sponsor for age inclusion within their workforce and ensuring that age is specifically named within their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.
Local authorities will be able to learn more about the Age-friendly Employer Pledge and how they can get involved at the upcoming Local Government Association (LGA) conference in Bournemouth on the 4-6 July.
Representatives from the Centre for Ageing Better will be at the conference to discuss all their current work and employment projects.
Attendees will get an opportunity to sign up for an exclusive local government focussed webinar in the autumn, which will provide an opportunity to learn about the good practice of local authorities who have already signed the Age-friendly Employer Pledge, find out more about the pledge and get a chance to ask questions directly to the Age-friendly Employer Pledge team.
Dr Emily Andrews, Deputy Director for Work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It has been really encouraging to see the number of local authorities who have signed the pledge already or registered an interest. Not only does the pledge give participants the impetus and guidance to take positive action towards becoming more age-friendly, but it also creates the opportunity to learn from others within the local government sector and beyond.
“Having more local authorities sign the pledge would be really key for us. Not only are local authorities often one of the biggest employers in any locality, but we know that the good practice they demonstrate can also be an inspiration and influence for other local employers to follow.
“With an older population that is becoming both larger and more diverse, it has never been more important for employers of all sizes to be age-friendly and show that they recognise the importance of older workers.”
Cllr Norma Mackie, Cabinet Member for Social Services (Adult Services) and Older Person’s Champion at Cardiff Council, said: “Cardiff is on a journey to becoming more age-friendly and joining this scheme is another significant achievement.
“Becoming an Age-friendly Employer sends a strong message to our own workforce and prospective employees that we value the contribution of our older staff and the experience and knowledge they bring to their roles.
“Our commitment to improving career opportunities for older people in Cardiff is underlined in the new Corporate Plan 2023-26. We want to set the standard for other employers in the city to follow and be able to provide information and advice on ways they can make their own business or organisation more age-friendly with a view to joining the pledge scheme too.”
Sharon Betts, Director for Corporate Services at Isle Of Wight Council, said: “Our employment offer supports flexible working around people’s personal needs, including reduced hours, agile working arrangements and part-time contracts. We support all our staff with learning and development opportunities no matter their age, and we are proud that one in seven of our apprentices is over 50.
“We understand that our older members of staff may have caring responsibilities and have supported the development of a staff networking group to share experiences and gain support. Our team of Age-friendly champions support their colleagues when planning and implementing changes to ensure full consideration is given to older people accessing our services effectively.
“Our in-house Age-friendly training has been well attended. It has helped to inform policy and strategy moving forward and made more people aware of the challenges experienced by older people, especially in relation to communicating with us, where we’ve adopted best practice to support people to achieve what they need. Having attended the training myself, I found that it gave me a much better insight into the barriers faced by our older residents.”