Age Discrimination and Why Youth isn’t Wasted on the Young
An advert in a newsagent’s window reads ‘paper boy/girl required’. Technically, this is age discrimination as it implies you have to be a child to apply for the job, although you don’t specifically need to be a child to do it. Yes, we all associate newspaper delivery with children but that doesn’t mean we should be excluding adults.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing is common and some employers are advertising in this way for more cynical reasons than just thinking it’s a job for a young person or child. Conversely, there is reluctance amongst some employers to hire younger people or those with limited experience and we think this is a shame so here are our thoughts on age discrimination around employing young people.
This is something that really frustrates me. Because of the way minimum wage is structured in the UK, it’s legal to pay a 16-year-old significantly less than a 25-year-old. You can legally pay someone under 18 just £4.35 an hour, which rises to £6.15 for 18 to 20 year olds. Once someone reaches the age of 25, they are entitled to £8.21 per hour.
Not only is this system seriously confusing, it assumes that a 20-year-old or even a 24-year-old has fewer living expenses than a 25-year-old and their skills are worth paying less for.
People argue that it encourages employers to take a chance on a younger person because they cost less but we just find that unscrupulous people try to employ nothing but young people so they can get away with paying them less. If an 18-year-old is doing the same job as a 30-year-old, why should they be paid less?
Is Experience Everything?
Another misconception around this issue is, that someone having more experience will necessarily make them better at a job than someone with less experience. This leads to job adverts with arbitrary experience requirements on them, which is also age discriminatory because it means younger people are excluded. With a wealth of recruitment experience, I have noticed that people can be more skilled, talented and proficient at a job after 2 years than some people are after 20. I believe that good training and supervision can overcome many of the problems with lack of experience (not all of them, obviously) and think that young people deserve to be employed for better reasons than just being cheap.
Advantages to Employing Young People
Stereotypes about young people being lazy and reckless date back hundreds of years and have never really been true for most of the generation. Instead, I have found younger employees to be enthusiastic (not yet cynical and jaded!), energetic, adaptable and flexible. We hardly need to point out how well younger people take to technology and receiving so much education so recently means they are accustomed to learning new things. Typically, younger people have less commitments outside of work so are often more flexible with their working hours as well as statistically being highly productive in the workplace.
We’re big fans of young people at Pier Recruitment and it makes us sad to see them sold short and just used as cheap labour. With our skilled and talented team, we know what to look for when it comes to finding the right person for the job regardless of our age. We know that putting ‘must have 5 years’ experience’ on a job description isn’t a good idea so we advise our clients on how to find the best candidates based on their skills and competencies, rather than just how many years they’ve done a job. If you would like some help recruiting the best people, please give us a call on 01273 874154.
This post was written by admin