Age is no barrier for firm

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AGE is no barrier on the shopfloor at a factory in South Tyneside which is pioneering a scheme to make the most of its experienced workers.

Filtrona Filter Products in Jarrow, is involved in a pilot project to help employers better manage the challenges and unlock the potential of an ageing workforce.

The Age Inclusive Standards will be launched in the autumn to help employers assess their age-related employment practices and policies, along with an award to recognise their achievement on reaching the standards. The cigarette filter company, which employs 190 people at its base at Bede Industrial Estate, is one of the pilot firms working with Age Inclusive to make the most of the skills of older workers.

Age Inclusive Ltd was established with support from Newcastle’s Science City and Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business initiative.

Simon Thomas, human resources manager at Filtrona, said: “Our company has been established for 50 years, and it is our depth of knowledge that gives us our competitive edge, so much so that we lend out our employees to other factories when they need advice.

“With the average age of our team being 40, we are acutely aware that we need to protect this expertise.

“Age Inclusive’s new award provides a way for us to measure ourselves on the way we handle age-related employment policies, and then highlights how we can manage any issues identified.

“It’s come along at just the right time for us because this is so high on our agenda, and I imagine it is for most companies.”

Age Inclusive director Cynthia Bartley said: “The ageing workforce is a huge challenge and opportunity for employers and employees, even if they don’t know it yet.

“The abolition of the default retirement age last October, the need to fill an estimated 13.5 million job vacancies over the next 10 years, and the financial need for many of us to work longer means employers have to manage their older workers in new ways.

“Organisations are undergoing huge cultural changes and shifts in attitudes to all kinds of issues, such as flexible working practices.

“These are very interesting and challenging times from an HR perspective because the approach to managing people of different ages often needs to be completely different.”

By signing up to the scheme, Age Inclusive anticipates employers will benefit from improved retention and recruitment, improved morale and the culture of the organisation, and improved productivity and absence rates by ensuring the right person is in the right job at the right time of their career.

Twitter: @Terry16