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Older People

Volume 474: debated on Monday 31 March 2008

10. What steps his Department is taking to encourage employers to recognise the contribution of older people in the workplace. (197199)

On Thursday I visited Heritage Glass in Shrewsbury, where the youngest salesman is 60 and the oldest is 73. The company has found that its business has been boosted by employing older people. The Government are encouraging employers to employ older people as part of a mixed work force, and to challenge some of the ageist myths that some still believe. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 prohibit unjustified age discrimination in employment and training.

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that response. He will be aware that Glasgow city council recently announced that any school leaver wishing to take up an apprenticeship will be guaranteed that option, but that will work only if local employers and the elderly work force play their part. Some elderly skilled members of the work force currently on disablement benefit are more than capable of passing on their skills and talents to future generations. Will my hon. and learned Friend agree to meet like-minded Labour colleagues to talk through the issues, so that we make sure that people who have skills pass them on but do not lose their benefits?

It is important for us to ensure that skills can be passed on, and I should be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that. I can also tell him that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will visit Glasgow shortly and meet members of the city council, and that he will have an opportunity to discuss the project and some of the issues that my hon. Friend has raised.