Reviews government and employer policies towards older workers and shows that there has been a massive decline in economic activity among older workers over the last two decades. The major cause is identified as economic recession which has encouraged employers, with the support of government, to target older workers for redundancy. In addition, older workers have been over‐represented in declining industries. Once out in the labour market older workers face considerable age discrimination. Recently, population ageing has encouraged all political parties to revise their policies on age and employment. Each now recognizes the value of older workers, although there is fundamental disagreement about the best means of encouraging employers to change their practices. The then Conservative government favoured a voluntary approach while the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have been more favourably disposed towards comprehensive legislation outlawing age discrimination. Argues that a combination of both approaches is desirable and, moreover, that it will also be necessary to revise policies on training, pensions and social security.
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