Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Brits say age is the biggest barrier to opportunity, new LinkedIn study finds

Age has been revealed as the number one barrier to job opportunities in the UK - above gender, ethnicity or education.

Age has been revealed as the number one barrier to job opportunities in the UK - above gender, ethnicity or education - according to new data from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network. 

The study, which surveyed 30,000 people around the world aged 18 to 65 years old - including more than 2,000 Brits - found that when people in the UK think about opportunity today, they most associate it with getting a job that offers a good work/life balance (43%), stability (42%) and the chance to do what they love (40%). However, not everyone feels that these opportunities are theirs for the taking. 

Age as a barrier to opportunity is particularly felt by nearly half (45%) of Baby Boomers (aged 55-65), and over a quarter (26%) of Gen X (aged 39-54). Brits are not alone; adults in Japan, Australia and the Netherlands also consider age to be problematic when it comes to job opportunities. 

While 84% of Brits say working hard is the key to getting ahead in life, and over three-quarters (78%) say the willingness to embrace change is also critical, the majority (66%) believe the age barrier is very difficult to overcome. With people living and working for longer, and analysis of ONS data finding that over-65s will account for over half of employment growth in the next 10 years, businesses must create inclusive multi-generational workplace environments and harness the valuable experience and potential of older workers.

Jon Addison, Vice President of Talent Solutions EMEA at LinkedIn, said: “It’s promising to see UK companies thoughtfully addressing how they can best harness the diverse skills and experiences of the multi-generational workforce, with nearly half (46%) recently changing their workforce strategies to appeal to younger and older generations. Companies are creating longevity initiatives, such as returnships, reverse mentoring schemes and upskilling programmes to keep older generations happy and engaged at work, which is crucial to building diverse and successful companies, and fuelling economic growth.”

Additional research from LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report found that companies are actively harnessing the power of the multigenerational workforce, with 89% of UK HR and talent professionals agreeing that age diversity ultimately makes companies more successful. With people living longer and Gen Z (aged 23 and younger) hitting the job market, the 2020s represent a new chapter in workforce age diversity. 

Helen Tupper, CEO of Amazing If and author of The Squiggly Career, said: “Organisations with linear career paths, where promotion is a primary source of reward, risk alienating older workers who want to move in different directions and be recognised for their impact in more distinct ways. Capturing the value of a multi-generational workforce also requires individuals to take ownership for their development to ensure they are confident in their strengths and committed to continual learning. All too often, fears of being too young or being too old hold people back from contributing fully in the workplace. If individuals can overcome their 'confidence gremlins' and understand the unique value of their contribution we can build strengths-based workforces that create significant competitive advantage.”

About the research

LinkedIn commissioned independent market research firm, GfK, to survey more than 30,000 respondents across 22 countries aged 18 to 65 years old, including 2,012 in the UK - to gauge their attitudes to opportunity and the barriers preventing them from achieving their goals. Online interviews were conducted between September and October 2019. 

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and transforms the way companies hire, market and sell. Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce through the ongoing development of the world’s first Economic Graph. LinkedIn has more than 675+ million members and has offices around the globe.