Ageism report reveals a third of retired people felt forced to leave the workplace

  • Mohammed Khan speaks about the kind of discrimination he faces as someone who returned to work aged over 50.

A third of retired people felt they were forced to leave the workplace, and two thirds of people over the age of 50 expect to be discriminated against because of their age when job hunting, ITV News has learned.

The Unretirement Uprising report out today, and shared exclusively with ITV News, is calling for employers to increase age diversity within the workforce.

They say this could be by attracting older people to apply for jobs, retaining them as part of the workforce, or even encouraging them out of retirement.

Mohammed Khan, from Solihull worked in technology for 28 years and was a chief technology officer before becoming a stay at home dad. 

When he decided he wanted to return to work, he was over 50, and in a year applied for up to 40 jobs with no success. He got one interview.

"Eventually it dawned on me it could be because I've been in the industry for over 20 years.

"If I compare it to 20 years before that, '98, '99 when I first started, I was getting interviews and job offers all the time.

"But when I come into it years later, in my late 40s, early 50s, I was getting nearly nothing back, or if I was, it was very junior type roles.

"Something else I got was 'We don't believe [you have the right skills] because you've been out for a year or two years, better off you start at a lower level and work your way up again'.

"Some of the roles I would have done five years after leaving university, and that's probably 29 years ago.

"I get 'oh you won't be able to deal with the pace of what's happening in the world'. Well I think I've done pretty well thus far.

"I'd never experienced this before, it just seemed odd. Maybe one of the factors was that people are now able to Google how old they think you are and then say 'ah right, nah, don't want him.'"

He says sometimes it was to his face, and sometimes it was innuendo, such as asking him if he would be willing to retrain.

He has now set up his own biotech company where he also mentors students and start up businesses.

"I didn't notice I was 55, I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the uncertainty of setting up your own business."

More than 4,000 over-50s were surveyed across the UK, with six in ten saying they were open to re-skilling for a new role.

The report claims the generation surveyed are "capable of injecting around £20 billion to the economy by staying in work."

Lyndsey Simpson, Founder and CEO of 55/Redefined, said:

"The relationship between the over-50s and work is broken. While progress has been made across other diversity and inclusion measures, age is falling by the wayside and it's not just morally wrong, but fiscally irresponsible. In a struggling economy, awash with job vacancies, the over-50s could solve the UK's talent problems, but action needs to be taken.

"Employers must do deep work to improve their age diversity to mirror the positive change we've seen across gender or any other characteristic. Actively looking to attract and retain over-50s - including welcoming the notion of unretirement, giving the over-50s the choice to remain, leave and re-enter the workplace - is key."

Report findings:

  • Almost two thirds (65%) of over-50s believe their age works against them when applying for a new role

  • 70% feel that it is difficult in your 50s to achieve these new career pathways

  • 63% would consider reskilling for a new job

  • Almost one third (30%) of those retired felt forced to do so, with women 10% more likely to feel forced to retire than men.