Ten local authorities have signed the age-friendly employer pledge, becoming the first councils in England and Wales to do so.
Cardiff Council, City of Doncaster Council, East Lindsey District Council, East Riding local authority, Isle of Wight council, Leeds City Council, Lincolnshire County Council, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Wealden District Council and Winchester City Council all make a commitment to support older employees in the workplace.
The authorities, which have a combined workforce of more than 40,000, have joined the nationwide scheme that will see them taking action to boost the recruitment, retention and training of older staff members.
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 along the way.
“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 in 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.”
Launched by the Centre for Ageing Better in late 2022, the age-friendly employer pledge aims to fight ageism at work and help employers grappling with skills shortages and vacancies.
Sharon Betts, director for corporate services at Isle of Wight Council, explained that the authority offers flexible working around people’s personal needs, including reduced hours, agile working arrangements and part-time contracts.
She added: “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 aged 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, 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.”
The pledge has also been signed by Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), a membership network for public sector and local government professionals in the UK.
So far, 170-plus employers have joined the programme, including Ipsos UK, Natural England, Virgin Hotels, Oliver Bonas and Zurich Insurance, as well as some government departments.