The average Treasury employee is 34, although they are over 50 when they return to work

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The average Treasury employee is 34, although they are over 50 when they return to work

  • By Nur Nanji
  • Business reporter, BBC News

image source, Getty Images

The Chancellor is urging over-50s to get back to work, but the average age of Treasury staff is 33.6, the BBC has learned.

Just under 10% of Treasury staff are over 50, it has revealed. This age group makes up 32% of the UK workforce, the Office for National Statistics said.

Charities warn that over-50s do want to work but often face an ageist approach from recruiters.

The finance ministry said its recruitment processes are “fair, open and merit-based”.

The BBC used a freedom of information request, asking to see the ages of all applicants for Treasury jobs over the past five years.

The results revealed that far fewer over-50s applied for jobs at the Treasury than younger workers.

Those over 50 who were invited to interviews were less likely to receive a job offer than younger workers.

On average, over the past five years, 17% of over-50s who received interviews at the Treasury were successful in receiving job offers. The figure is 20% for people in their thirties and 22% for people under 30.

Taken as a whole, the average age of Treasury employees was 33.6 years as of December 2022.

This is well below the average age of workers in the UK, which is 42, according to the International Labor Organisation. This is based on the latest available data from 2021.

“Ageism in the labor market”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who is 56, is urging the over-50s to get back to work to help tackle economy-wide staff shortages.

In his Budget last week, Mr Hunt said that instead of labeling over-50s as “older” workers, they should instead be considered “experienced”.

He pledged £63m for programs to encourage this group back into work with “return” and training camps.

But charities have warned that while many over-50s do want to return to work, they often face discrimination from recruiters.

“There is definitely a lot of ageism in the labor market,” said Chris Brooks, head of policy at Age UK.

“We regularly hear from people who say they feel unfairly overlooked in the recruitment process.”

The Treasury uses blind recruitment, which means that the assessors do not see the age of the applicants. That can be “really helpful in the early stages,” Mr. Brooks said, when reviewing resumes and applications.

“But you still need to train recruiters to make sure they minimize bias when they’re face-to-face with candidates for an interview,” he added.

“Desperate to work”

Chris Walsh, chief executive of the charity Wise Age, which supports older workers looking for work, said the Treasury’s employment figures for over-50s were “disappointing”.

There were “real benefits to having an age-diverse workforce,” he added. “Especially in today’s tight labor market, it is harmful for employers not to hire diversely.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Our recruitment processes are fair, open and merit-based. We run a ‘blind’ recruitment process, which means that applicants’ personal details, including age, are not shown to assessors.

“We are committed to ensuring that our staff come from diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences.”

Tips for finding a job if you’re over 50

  • Shift the focus from your age to your abilities where you can
  • Update your skills in areas valued by employers
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for flexible working – many employers expect it

Are you over 50 and recently found a new job? Share your tips with us via email

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