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Employers who face difficulties recruiting workers are not necessarily more willing than other employers to hire persons over the age of 55. These employers invest in older workers only if they have a more positive perception of older workers than employers have on average. This is evident in a fresh research article by the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

The perception of older workers seems to affect employers’ intentions to utilise an older workforce. Recruitment difficulties could be expected to increase the interest in hiring older workers, but the study shows that this is not always the case. 

“Although the majority of employers are positive towards hiring older workers, negative workplace age stereotypes may pose a potential obstacle for some employers to make the best use of an older workforce”, says Senior Researcher Aart-Jan Riekhoff (Finnish Centre for Pensions).

Pensioners form a flexible workforce

According to the study, employers that experience recruitment problems are more willing than other employers to employ retired workers. This may be because the retired workers are familiar to the employer, they have the required skills and often want to work part-time or sporadically. 

“Pensioners are a flexible labour reserve for employers. Maybe employers feel that they don’t have to commit to pensioners as employees”, Riekhoff ponders.

Employers fail to utilise the labour potential of persons close to their retirement age

Persons close to or just past their retirement age are often willing and able to work, but for some reason they cannot find work. 

“A shortage of qualified labour and the ageing population challenge not only the labour markets but also the long-term sustainability of pension systems. Solutions to these challenges are sought in, for example, labour immigration. But persons close to their retirement age are an available labour force that employers don’t utilise enough”, Riekhoff explains.

Employers’ awareness of older workers’ skills should be improved

According to Riekhoff, employers should be made more aware of the experience and skills of older workers.  

“Employers should also be supported in adjusting to an older workforce. In addition, the aim should be to dispel age stereotypes not only at workplaces but also in society at large.”  

The study is based on a survey conducted in 2021 among Finnish employers. The study explored employers’ views on extended working lives and the retirement age. Nearly 1,700 private and public sector employers responded to the survey.  

The research article was published in the International Journal of Manpower. 

Article in Julkari

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions