When age matters – are construction companies shooting themselves in the foot?

Ageism Ellis Fox Blog

While there are a lot of news headlines about gender inequality in construction not much is said about older employees in the industry. There have been reports about how much of the expertise within the industry is due to retire in the next 10 years and how big a skills gap that will leave, so one would think that companies would value and look after the expertise that is there.

It appears that this is not always the case. Rather than been sought after, older job candidates are being turned down, not because they don’t have the right qualifications or expertise, but because they are deemed too close to retirement age. In case you’re wondering, it’s actually illegal to refuse to hire anyone who is more than 6 months away from retirement age because of that.

It’s also illegal to specify age a job criterion, yet 10% of firms in the construction industry do. 27% of firms specify maximum recruitment ages more than 6 months from retirement age and 12% of firms use age to fix a starting salary[i]. All illegal practices, but it happens.

What the construction industry needs

Now is not a time where the construction industry can afford to be blinded by hiring prejudice. Age, like gender, has little impact on the expertise a person may have. If you’re going to harp on the argument that you can’t offer the salaries that older employees are asking for, think again. Think of the value they can bring to the organization in terms of their experience and expertise. A younger person may be cheaper and have a longer career ahead of them, but most young professions see staying at a firm 2 years a long time and are more than likely to move on before then, so what would you really be gaining?

Related reading: Are you hiring what you want instead of what you need?

One area that senior professionals are proving their true value is in being interims – professionals that are brought in on a temporary contract basis for a specific project or to achieve a specific business objective. They hit the ground running because they know the industry, and they have the experience to make the hard decisions needed to turn things around.  Most importantly, in the process they can impart their knowledge to the teams they work with so that once the project is completed and they leave, things continue to go in the right direction.

Age is just a number, don’t use it against what could be your best prospects.

If you’re a senior professional in the construction industry looking for opportunities, talk to us. We have a number of interim and permanent positions with high profile clients that could be right for you. Call us on 020 7183 0255 or email: team@ellisfox.co.uk