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Departmental Equal Opportunities

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to (a) promote age diversity in the workplace and (b) enable older people to gain equal access to training opportunities. (171045)

Since 2000, through our Age Positive initiative, we have been strongly promoting the business benefits of employing older people as part of a mixed age workforce.

Between May 2005 and October 2006 the DWP ran the ‘Be Ready' National Guidance campaign to prepare employers for the introduction of workplace age discrimination legislation on 1 October 2006. The launch commenced with a mailing of basic information to 1.4 million employers. The campaign was designed both to raise awareness of age discrimination legislation, and to provide practical guidance to help employers become more age diverse in their employment practices.

The ‘Be Ready' materials were developed with the support and advice of the Age Partnership Group, which consists of leading business and Government bodies including the CBI, TUC, Chambers of Commerce, CIPD, Institute of Directors, DBERR and ACAS. Many of the members and a number of key trade sector organisations worked with us to actively promote the materials through their own employer networks.

Through our Age Positive initiative we are continuing to promote to employers the benefits of employing older people as part of a mixed age workforce and the adoption of flexible work and retirement policies.

Opportunities for older people to learn new skills in a changing labour market are essential. We are working with the Department of Innovation Universities and Skills to consider how older workers can be better supported to stay in work.

There is a wealth of non-age related support already available which can benefit all workers, including older workers, and those seeking to return to the labour market. The level 2 entitlement, Train to Gain, Skills for Life, Information Advice and Guidance, New Deal for Skills and the development of Skills Accounts are all age neutral. Adult learning grant is also available to people over the age of 25. The LSC have allocated a further £16.7 million for adult apprenticeships in 2007-08 and Government will invest £90 million in total over the CSR period to support an additional 30,000 adult apprenticeship places.