‘Protirement’ is trending again – but ageism remains rife

In late January, Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the U.K. government, invoked the spirit of Uncle Sam, who had implored Americans to enroll for World War I action over a century earlier. “I want YOU for the U.S. Army,” read the caption on the four million recruitment posters – featuring the scowling, pointing, bearded fictitious character – plastered across the country. 

With, at the last count, 1.1 million job vacancies to fill in the U.K., Hunt adopted a similarly commanding tone, this time to persuade troops to rejoin the workforce and ease the war for talent. “To those who retired early after the pandemic or haven’t found the right role after furlough, I say ‘Britain needs you,’” he said. “We will look at the conditions necessary to make work worth your while.”

This plea was part of a campaign to encourage the 630,000 people who left the U.K. workforce between 2019 and 2022 – so-called “protirees” – to return to employment and help the country fight off the recession.

However, more recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) that surveyed more than 1,000 managers working in U.K. businesses and public services indicated firms are overlooking older people and instead opting for younger workers. Indeed, just 42% of respondents were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64 years old.

How, then, can protirees who want to return to employment be better welcomed by organizations so that their considerable talents are not squandered? 

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Published by

Oliver Pickup

Multi-award-winning writer, content editor, ghostwriter, and TV and radio commentator (and occasional illustrator), specialising in technology, blockchain, startups, business, sport and culture. Founder of Pickup Media Limited. Interviewer of death row prisoners, legendary athletes, influential leaders, tech trendsetters, and cultural pioneers. By-lined in every English newspaper. Contributor to dozens of multinational publications.

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