Do you feel you've been a victim of age discrimination in the workplace?
Or if you are an employer, are you prepared for the new legislation?
Send in your comments using the form on the right hand side.
I think that the emphasis is a lot on older people. Whilst I agree that older people do get overlooked I also think that younger people do as well and this should be considered.
I am 58 years old, have a Masters degree and am accredited project manager. I am British, but Iranian born. It took me eight months and 1000 applications to get a job. I was aiming for both temporary and permanent positions.
Ahmad Shamsa, Oldham, England
I retrained as an IT professional at the age of 50. This year I am 58. In the last eight years I have had five different employers and dozens of interviews and several job offers. At no time has my age been considered as an issue. My CV has a current success rate of 80%. I am unremarkable in my skills set.
Robert Cooper, Southend on Sea, Essex
I watched with interest the Panorama programme. Ageism is blatant. We need more programmes like this to inform and enlighten people. I was impressed with the Pilot who was teaching much younger trainee pilots.
Maureen McGill, London
After being made redundant I went back to college then to university and eventually graduated at the age of 35. I am now 38, I have applied for 400+ jobs, been told I'm too old more than once and I am wondering why anyone over 30 would bother improving themselves at university when employers cannot see past their date of birth. I left university full of hope and enthusiasm, I now realise I don't need hope or enthusiasm, I need to be 23 again!
Patrick, Coventry, England.
As an old established manufacturing company founded in 1793 we have a long history of employing people long past their 'official' retirement date. Why should a company like us who spends a considerable amount of time in training someone let them go if they don't want too. Up until 2004 we employed a 96 year old as a part time cleaner, he was happy to work. I think the choice has to be with the employee not the employer on when to retire.
Mark Ormiston, Isleworth, Middlesex.
When I was out of work 13 years ago I changed my date of birth and obtained a job in a co. where the personnel lady made it clear she did not employ people over 40. Subsequently however other directors did employ some staff over age 40. Meanwhile I was working my way towards 60 (without their knowledge)and then just before 60 I was told my job would not exist and offered redundancy, which I accepted. They then learned my real age and the CEO was very angry about this. When I pointed out that it made no difference to my doing the job, she said what was important was people's perception of me(?). They thought they were getting rid of someone who was 51 and too young to get her pension. When they realised I was getting pension and redundancy and was not desperate for another full time job, they felt I had tricked them. Ageism from another angle....
I was made redundant in December 2004. I am an IT professional but my job has, like many others, gone to India. I am now 53. Ageism is blatant, I am registered with many agencies but once they know my age interest wanes. I have done one agencies "competency tests" only to be told that I had done too well and they couldn't place me as I would get bored. I am now having to face taking my main occupational pension to ensure I keep my home. I will lose 33% of this because I am taking it early. Believe me this will be a financial struggle - what a reward for my previous hard work!
Brenda Skan, Solihull, West Midlands
I am a bit distressed by your programme. I have worked in the IT business for thirty years and now that I have turned 50 it is getting increasingly difficult to find employers who are willing to use me because of my age. However, I should love to retire, but as I don't have enough money it would mean that my (younger) wife would have to work more. Before your programme she was convinced that this was a reasonable solution; now she is starting to say that the trend is clear and I will have to work for another ten years. Please restrict your broadcasts until after she has gone to bed.
Dave Barber, Southampton
Fascinating if not all that surprising. Panorama validated my own experience. 45 years old and washed up? 400+ applications to date.
Giving up? No way! I'm gay and pleased that anti-sexuality legislation is heading our way but we need government to tackle the ageism issue fast. Horrendous that so many government officials had no idea who was responsible!
name and address supplied
It's not about legislation, it's about changing attitudes, perceptions and work-place culture. The law will not change anything, but more programmes, such as this one, might...
Joanna Goodman, Epsom, Surrey
All the team managers had to re-apply for their own jobs during a company restructure. The two oldest were made redundant. As an added insult the redundancy payment was capped at the minimum required by law.
Clive Haworth, Derby UK
I work as a part-time cleaning supervisor and I have fifty two staff and the age range from 17 to 64, I do all of the hiring and firing and my head office has told me to get rid of some of the youngsters as I have to many which is bad for the company image.
I also got a chap I know who is 62 a job interview with a cleaning company where I work in the day and they gave him an interview as a favour to me. He did not get the job as he is to old and that came from the day shift supervisor who was carrying out the interviews. I found your programme of great interest as I believe in everyone no matter what there age and I will always stand my ground when I carry out interviews no matter your age we can and will work together, to bad if the company does not like it.
Paul Cherry, Stevenage, Herts
I am 29 and had an opportunity to work for a company that had employees aged in their 40s and 50s. It was the first job interview I had in years. But I found it really difficult to accept the position as I thought the people around me might have been too bossy or too experienced working with me. I just felt uneasy working with older people. Although I find the older generation are more experienced they might not be necessarily be adaptive to working alongside a younger generation. I am Asian Muslim so I might find it extremely hard to work alongside the older generation, they might have different views on culture but I do agree with the panorama programme that more needs to be done to encourage older people to apply for jobs.
Zuber Ahmed, Birmingham
With people delaying parenthood until their late 30's and early 40's, we must hope for an end to age discrimination. If (like us) you'll still have teenagers living at home when you're 50 plus, or you're trying to meet the cost of university fees, you'll be needing a steady income well into your 60's, if not longer. And what about those people who are constantly re-mortgaging their houses at present to meet the cost of raising a family for example - how will they meet their mortgage payments later?
I am glad that the programme makers were prepared to admit to the BBC being a serious offender as far as ageism is concerned as it is rife in the television industry in general. However, although otherwise a constructive programme, I was outraged by the use of the "J.R. Hartley" figure to symbolise the plight of the older worker. The pastiche was cleverly and amusingly done but the actor looked at least 75, yet the script identified him as being 60. I am a television drama director just turned 60, and if the image the Panorama production team obviously has of a 60 year old is duplicated in other departments then no wonder I can no longer get taken seriously by drama producers. I am nothing like "J.R. Hartley", have all my own teeth and am probably better at my job than I have ever been, while still remaining open to new ideas, but the only work I am now offered is by a loyal handful of producers who already know and trust me. Panorama's stereotyping will not help.
Stephen Butcher, Ballymena, Co. Antrim
Made redundant at 54 now 55. Have applied for numerous jobs without out success. Not even being interviewed for roles I could do with my eyes shut! Interesting that the only interview I have had came due to the agency incorrectly typing in my date of birth as 1971 and not 1951. Your programme correctly set out the position however I can't in reality see that changing despite all the Government sound bites! Removing date of birth will have no effect as we all tend to go to University at 18 and start work say 4 years later.
Ian Pilsworth, St. Albans Hertfordshire
I can't believe how "ageist" this programme was. Do the spotty ingenues who produced it really see "Hartley" as a typical 60 year old?! My father who died at 82 looked younger and more sprightly than this actor. Must be scope here for a reality check on what the average 60 year old is like and capable of.
Clive Friend, Cobham, Surrey
In 1992 Mrs Thatcher told companies to "cut out the dead wood". Whether at board level or professional or middle management level this statement was seized upon and used as an excuse for throwing out all aspects judged non essential to businesses. A group of over 40s and professionals who found themselves on the Job Centre queue, smarting from rejection: decided to form their own self-help group. From Accountants to Rocket Scientists our group found the Job Centres unable to help the professional sector. We helped many members find work, encouraged use of the internet, ran a web site and advertised the skills base of the individuals on our register. The Company History lost by UK industry during this period resulted in an explosion of consultancies to replace this lost expertise. Some of our members joined this sector. The rocket scientist (a Dr of Physics) who had to be a night porter in a Hotel for 4 years before he could find an adequate position and then only by subterfuge.(Now designing satellites). The bitter taste of those years, for those who had worked hard in the years before and achieved much that was later thrown away will not easily be forgotten.
C Moorey, Farnham, Surrey
Older employees are more expensive. Not only would an organisation be expected to pay for age and experience but would also be "landed" with paying an older employee's pension when they did eventually retire. Young people are a cheaper commodity, would go in on the bottom of the remuneration ladder and would have moved on long before they became a pension liability to their employer.
Sarah Anderson, Colwyn Bay, Conwy
Panorama was a bit of an eye opener. I was made redundant at 49 (Company closure) and initially had some success gaining interviews. However since I turned 50 (4mths ago) nothing.
I have now resorted to entering the duration of each period of EMPLOYMENT not the chronological dates as I can legitimately remove nearly 10yrs of self-employment. This has suddenly made me an attractive prospect again.
I also now leave out my age and state at the bottom of the CV that 'REFERENCES & RECOMENDATIONS ARE AVAILABLE'
Peter, Ridlington, Rutland
After being made redundant AND going through breast cancer in the same year of 2005 aged 59.I not only found age discrimination was rampant but health discrimination exists just as equally.
Ken Martindale, York, North Yorkshire
What is frustrating is that the building industry is supposedly so desperate for professionally qualified engineers that they want to poach them from overseas. (Aus, NZ, SA.) But as a highly qualified and computer literate civil engineer it took me three years to find work when I was made redundant at 42. Even then it was a more junior role and with a significant pay cut. I kept being told I was "too senior".
David , Swindon, UK
Last night's Panorama was well presented and the research carried out was very thorough. I am 56 and work for the Civil Service which, fortunately, appears to have a healthy attitude towards age - I managed to secure my job at the ripe old age of 52 and a colleague was actually 58 when he started his new job. One point that I found interesting in your programme was that employment agencies appear to be totally dominated by women - these women had absolutely no hesitation in discriminating against job applicants on grounds of age, gender, race - in fact, absolutely anything! Would these be the same women, by any chance, who have shouted from the rooftops over recent decades about being discriminated against in the workplace? Shame on you. With regard to forthcoming legislation covering age discrimination, it is a noble gesture but I don't think it will have the desired effect. As always, proving a case against a potential employer will be difficult.
Phil, Brampton, Cambs
I feel that the programme aired last night did raise some extremely valid points about the problem of ageism that occurs in this country. I do feel however that this is not a problem that occurs only at one end of the scale. There are numerous younger people who are also unjustifiably discriminated against due to their age and inappropriate stereotypes. This is an area of concern that hoping the new legislation may help to tackle.
Wendy Harman, Worcestershire
The reason most firms want younger staff is because when the management says "jump", they want people to say "how high?". What they don't want are experienced people who might question the wisdom of jumping in the first place, because that might expose the "Management" as a bunch of incompetent buffoons who couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the sole.
David, High Wycombe, UK
I'm 61 and female, and have had no difficulty in finding good jobs during my 50s up to the present day. I trained for my PGCE and received this at age 60, and have just completed successfully a diploma in life coaching. I now teach adults, I'm an information, advice & guidance worker for the WEA and also starting up my own business as a life coach. I believe that older people have a lot more to offer in certain occupations, such as those I'm in, plus management consultancy, mentoring, counselling, etc. If they can live on their pension, there's a huge choice of voluntary work out there. Older people need to think about being self-employed rather than working for somebody else. The gentleman in your fictitious example last night looked at least 75 years old - not 60. A youthful appearance and energy will help older people to find work.
Madeleine, Middleton-in-Teesdale, UK
What annoyed me more than almost anything last night was the reaction by MPs, including ministers, to the question about the identity of the so-called government champion for older people. They treated their ignorance as a pure joke, in the same way that they had mocked Ming Campbell in parliament, thereby trivialising the whole issue. Like others, I find it hard to believe the new legislation will make a jot of difference.
Richard, London, UK
There is age discrimination in the workplace, that I have no doubt. But how is it that the majority of directors sitting on a board of a company are aged 50+ and seem to be an exception to this rule and do not seem to be 'replaced' by younger people. It is ultimately these 'older' directors that formulate the policy within a company with regard to the age of person that should be recruited. I find it strange that the Panorama team did not explore this aspect further when making the program.
Finally age discrimination is getting a public airing - I've been subjected to it from the age of 40 and, 10 years' on, find it worse than ever. Everyone knows it's going on, even Jobcentre staff admit it. Employers want younger (cheaper) staff who won't answer back. Some young managers seem scared of us older, more experienced folk, when they should be taking advantage of, not only our work experience but our valuable life experience. It seems to me that the 40-60 age group are being ignored and I'm not convinced this legislation will do much to help us.
D Conway-Smith, Bromley, Kent
A few years ago - having sold my business and become bored with retirement I took a job as a " Part time driver " with an Automotive Company - moving demonstration vehicles around the country 3 days a week. I really enjoyed the work - and having been advised on several occasions that the Company were very happy with my approach to the job, I assumed that I would keep the job until I felt ready to retire.
I was therefore somewhat surprised and very disappointed when early in 2006 I was advised that since I had reached the unseemly age of 65 Company Policy dictated that I must retire. The problem I have in understanding the situation is as follows: They told me I must retire because I was "too old for the job" i.e. 65. BUT - having forced me to retire they were quite happy 2 weeks later to offer me a new contract as a "Casual Driver" Question - how can I be "too old " one week and NOT "too old" two weeks later?
John, Manchester, England
I watched your program last night with a lot of interest. I am 59 and have just taken early retirement from my job of 43 years. I have so far tried 23 job applications and had 3 interviews, but so far no job. Yes I do believe that age discrimination is at work. Proving it is the problem.
Greg Dowse, Portsmouth
Your programme was an eye opener -- the assistant DG of the CBI hasn't been too well informed if he thought that the companies mentioned, were employing in excess of 10% "older" people -- somehow, I think that the legislation due in force in October, is going to be of little use, in the foreseeable next few years -- as one of the people said -- its going to take a culture change before this ageism gets better for us older folk ! Thanks to Panorama for addressing the situation -- I hope you may be able to follow this up, soon!
Colin Elshaw, Ashford, Middlesex
I'm 69 now. When I was 67, I went on holiday and came back to find I was sacked for no apparent reason. I took my employer to an IT since my predecessors had retired at 70. I won the right to bring a case for unfair dismissal but this was overturned on appeal. In her summing-up, the appeal judge compared me to an old second hand car! Some world eh? I served my country- asked for nothing but fairness in return and now find my reputation in ruins because my employer never did tell anyone why they instantly dismissed me! I had a high profile, public position and was a professional. I wrote to Tony Blair but was merely referred to the forthcoming change in legislation which I knew about anyway. I even suggested that it would take over 900 years for us to finally ratify Magna Carta when the change came in October!
Jim Currie, Tarbert, Argyll.
I have been in banking/finance industry all my career. Within this sector I was in IT. Following Y2K many of us over 50 were made redundant. This is not unique and usually I bounce back into another job. Not this time. It took me 21 months and hundreds of applications to obtain a clerical job in the Local Council. Many companies did not acknowledge my application. So I took my dob off, this helped but then 1 company said "you will only be with us 5-6 years before your retire so no"! The only companies that willing accept older staff are the supermarkets - for brain dead floor positions!
Chris Collins, Woking Surrey
I am 56 and a buyer by profession. I was dismissed by my employers in August of last year for supposed poor performance. Since leaving work I have applied for over three hundred jobs and have had fewer than 10 interviews. I frequently receive phone calls from agency's stating that they have seen my CV on the internet, and are impressed with it's contents. They then ask me for some details about my current situation, and when they ask and are told what my date of birth is they quickly say "thanks very much we will be in touch." and hang up. That is the last I hear from them. Alistair McKenzie
Alistair McKenzie, Luton UK
Having recently separated from my husband I have been trying to find employment without success despite my top secretarial abilities my age is 52 yrs. I have sent many CV's and have not had any replies. I started to lie about my age saying I was 45 and not 52, but this still did not help. I have been telling friends and family this was the reason, but they did not believe me, they thought i was not trying hard enough.
M Quantrill, Lewes, East Sussex
I joined the civil service in 1989 at 36 years of age. Gained V. high marks in their Entrance exam and must have impressed at interview as was sent to a Dept in Whitehall to discuss my new position. At this meeting, when I asked about career progression, one of the two young men present replied cheerfully, that I did not stand a "cat in hells chance" of being promoted. I asked for clarification and he explained that I was too close to retirement age to merit training. (Sexist and ageist?)
Corinne Powell, Hastings England
This kind of attitude really frightens me. Being of Asian origin, over educated, nearing forty. Now I understand my colour is not the only factor against me. Employers who believe in ageism, won't they ever get old or they don't have any children? Where would they lead the society to? Probably they are wiser than the experience of the life.
Atul Kalia, Birmingham
I am terrified of being 50 (I am now 48) - I work in the media business and am the oldest person in the office of 50 people. I would be tempted to lie on any job application and say i was 10 years younger.
Paula Holmes, Chelsea, London
I have little confidence that the new legislation proposed for introduction will have any positive practical impact. As your programme illustrated, agencies or employers can, if they choose, practice age discrimination in a covert way. Furthermore, it will be of no benefit to exclude dates of birth from applications if dates of employment and education have to be included. It won't take an Einstein to reach some pretty accurate assumptions.
Many of the older people, 50 and above, in the programme who could not obtain work did not express the criteria that work was needed or necessary. They may well have had occupational or private pensions in payment or due to be paid plus their state pension. I was disappointed that the difficult situation women divorced late in life find or have found with no pension provision in their settlement. I have not been able to obtain permanent work in spite of acquiring further qualifications and will have to rely on the state pension. This is a result of ageism.
Barbara Groves, Warwick
I hope the proposed new legislation will include provision for fair rates of pay for older workers. Many security guards of over sixty accept as little as £5.30 to £5.80 per hour, have not had an increase for two and a half years and are frightened to complain for fear of losing their jobs.
D Park, Langton Green, Kent
As a 54 year old graduate with an MA and a PGCE (recently acquired) and varied experience in the workplace I have sent in applications for jobs and received no interview despite the fact that I tick all the boxes for their criteria. It is the most frustrating feeling to know that you are capable and willing to carry on working and taking an active part in the world, yet are rejected mainly on the basis of age. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that the apparently 'dynamic' youth can perform better than those of a certain age. I think a lot of the discrimination is about image and office cultures which are not necessarily about the simple criteria of performing a task, more about appearance and the illusion of efficiency and glamour.
Tricia Priestley, Brighton, England
I have been looking for a job since Oct 2005 and even at my age of 41 I am finding it very hard to find a job as it seems that employers wish to employ people in their 20's and 30's and mould them.
Will Treble, London
Last night's Panorama programme on ageism in the workplace certainly opened a can of worms which I am sure will be revisited and re-explored again and again in the coming months. It examined the symptoms of ageism and some of the consequences, however, the root causes still need to be explored more deeply and effective responses found. There are millions of economically inactive people in the UK who would like to work but can't find a job. Our national skills and talent are being wasted at a time when it has never needed more people to be gainfully employed not least to meet our growing tax burden and to plug our massive pensions deficit.
Janet Davies, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
The New Deal 50+ is simply a means used by the government to try and reduce statistical figures. It fails to address people at middle management level and even employment advisors now admit that my age is the real problem. Despite the impending legislation to combat this problem, I think it will be impossible to police.
Nick Hamilton-King, Plymouth UK
My company employ 34 people, ranging in age from 20 to 63 years of age. Our average age is 40. The older employees, although not as physically able as the younger ones, are without exception, reliable, hardworking and possess a strong work ethic. We have learned to match each employee with the job best suited to their ability and experience. It's not rocket science or even something that needs regulating. It's just common sense.
Shay Eddy, Scunthorpe
Excellent programme last night. I am 53, with a wealth of management experience, and have been looking for a job for a year following redundancy. I now purposefully never quote my age and have eradicated the first ten years of my jobs history. This has helped to get to three interviews from more than 60 job applications. However, it's amazing though how interest wanes as soon as one's age becomes clear. How the government can expect us to work longer, to help the pensions crisis, when one is considered over the hill at 50 or less totally baffles me.
Roy Curry, Teddington, Middlesex
I am a careers adviser and I get both younger and older people telling me of age discrimination in the workplace. Ideally, employers should be recruiting people based on their merits alone and staff should reflect the varied client base. It is not to anyone's benefit to discriminate on grounds of age or outward appearance and other external factors.
HY Tsang, Glasgow, Scotland
After an interesting and diverse career as an engineer and managing director winning awards with my teams in international operations, I nevertheless expected to have to work hard to find opportunity in the UK's dying manufacturing sector. At 58 and as fit and enthusiastic as ever, I find that recruiters who take an interest in my CV then run a mile when they realise my age. And they are often very open about it - one last week said that the position was to take over from someone being eased out at 55 so I was obviously unsuitable.
Garth Wright, Reading Berkshire
I am a 47 year old chef. Having lost my job through competitive tendering at the start of last year, I applied for over 30 chef jobs, before finally being offered a position just before Christmas. Very often vacancies are posted for "Young" head chef. One actually specified "must be under 25". Kitchen work is physically demanding, but I think to suggest that a man in his thirties or forties is too old, is to discount a wealth of professional experience.
Mark Webb, Essex
One would hope that each job application is considered on its merit. Many 50+ candidates are dynamic, energetic with not only up-to-date skills, but come also with valuable professional and life experience. Any sort of discrimination, ageist or sexist, is disgusting and should not have place in our society. Your programme was thought-provoking and raised pressing employment issues faced by a large group of highly qualified, experienced and skilled population seeking employment.
JG, Epsom, Surrey
I was made redundant at the age of 55. I am now coming up to 59. Since redundancy I have applied for 218 jobs and had three interviews. All interviews went well until the question of may age. I was told ' Thank you very much, we have a few more candidates to see' and that is the last I ever heard from the firms. I also have a visual disability, which makes it more difficult to even get an interview. I have now given up looking for a job and just live on my company pension. I do two volunteer jobs just to keep my brain working.
Bill Smith, Southwater, Sussex
I feel this programme on equal opportunities, helped to uncover some of the existing inequalities that are still occurring within employment in the UK. As a young black male, educated to a higher education standard I have found it extremely problematic to find employment within the field i want to go into. At times, I have felt this may be due to my colour as I often fit the experience and prerequisites of the job, but find myself not even reaching an interview.
Dmitri Thompson, Middlesbrough
Maybe I'm lucky. I was taken on by my present company when I was 52, as a telephonist/receptionist. I am now 63 and for the last 6 years have been working as PA to the Chairman, who is 74. The staff in my immediate office area range from 40ish to 60+. Of course we employ younger people as well, but experience and maturity is valued and it pays off. The company is thriving.
I was amazed by your programme last night. As a chief executive of an environmental company, the majority of my staff are of graduate level. But the skills I find hardest to secure and the most important is common sense and being able to understand, communicate and deliver what the public and businesses really need. This takes life experience. If I receive a CV from a mature student I will more likely interview them because they have up-to-date technical understanding along with practical life skills. We actively promote a diverse workforce and after 15 years in business it obviously works.
Christine Watkins, Southampton, Hampshire
I found your programme on " ageism " most interesting and from my experience accurate. One month before my 50th birthday I was made redundant. I think that an interesting statistic to establish of the FTSE companies would be to find out how many people in recent times have been able to collect their pension at the agreed date and not "forced" to leave early. It is all well and good for the Government to change laws about when to retire due to inability to pay out. But what use is a retirement age of 70 if one cannot find work from the age of 50 or worse?
Terry Coutts, Hadleigh, Essex
I lost my job when I was 60 years old. Since October last year I have been trying to get into the same field. Lots of interviews but as soon as they see me, that's it. I look 54 but I still have problems. The Government wants us to work longer, how is it going to be possible when people my age are discriminated against.
Anna Maria Daher, London
The employers in this country are the first to whinge when they say workers do not have the right skills and attitude. Yet they employ young people who have to learn these skills then they kick them out at 35 or so. I also found it appalling that three out of the five agencies contacted would break the anti-discrimination race laws. What chance have people on the grounds of age.
CR Henderson, Newcastle
Finally, the penny is dropping, although it will take legislation to enforce anti-ageism. The fact remains that those who already do not discriminate are not the problem. Those that do are - how can you legislate for hidden agendas? I found the attitude of employment agencies surveyed (in general) very disturbing. There is an ocean of talent amongst the 50+ age group.
Michael Phillips, Ipswich
I was made redundant in 2004 at the age of 53. Two years later I am still out of work despite literally hundreds of job applications to organisations in the public sector where I worked for 27 years. I am a graduate and a qualified librarian. I love IT and once set up a web site for my organisation. I'm sick of being nagged by Job Centre staff to go shelf stacking or do voluntary work. Roll on 1st October.
Five months ago, I was involved in setting up a company to place retired and semi-retired directors and senior managers into part-time and project work. We particularly wanted to help smaller companies to benefit from top-level skills at a manageable cost. We had more than 40 such excellent individuals with a wide spectrum of skills, but at the end of March we had to cease operating because we could find no posts or vacancies with companies who would take older people, even though they were not staff jobs.
Tony Crook, Gloucestershire
I managed a manufacturing production department of nine staff and at 40 I'm the youngest member of my team. I have always valued older members of staff as they are full of knowledge and ideas, they are keen and lot more skilled and of course they turn up for work more often than any twenty something. The majority of my team are in their 50s and 60s one is at 45 and the eldest at 71. I would like to say to employers that you've got the balance the wrong way round and you are missing out on a lot of skilled labour.
Karl Quent, Camberley, Surrey
Following redundancy at age 51, I applied for many jobs but got almost no interviews. So after 2 years without work I decided to withhold my date of birth from the application forms and I started to get some interviews. Perhaps all the young interviewers I saw were unable to calculate my age from the dates listed alongside my qualifications. However, without a facelift I couldn't look 30 again.
Keith Wakeman, Milton Keynes
I believe that sometimes, when recruiting managers say that an applicant is "too senior" or "over qualified" it really means that they do not want to employ someone older than themselves because they fear that their own authority would be at risk. If this is the case, then those managers are themselves "under qualified" for leading others.
After being made redundant from a biotech company at 44, now four years ago, I have been unable to find another job even though I am qualified to PhD level in chemistry and have several years experience working in the biosciences. With a lack of relevant jobs matching my skill set, applying for jobs with lesser requirements has been fruitless since recruitment professionals consider me either over-qualified, too experienced or too senior. I hope we are being honest with today's graduates in telling them that their anticipated career in science is unlikely to last any longer than that of a professional footballer and don't worry, you won't be paid a premier league salary either.
Bob Amess, Oxford
I went to university as a mature student, I finished my first degree when I was 38, as I was struggling to get a job. I then went on to complete an MA. I finally got a low paying job after completion of the MA. For the past 4 years I have been looking for work that is commensurate with my many years work experience and my qualifications. In a number of cases I have been told through agencies that the company are looking for young graduates.
I am now 47, but both I and my friends, who are all in their mid-late 30's or early 40's, were aware 10 years ago of ageism in the workplace, as we saw all the younger graduates in our year with the same qualifications, landing good jobs.
Janet Lopacki, Urmston, Greater Manchester
The consequences for discriminating against older, more experienced job applicants, go far beyond those at the personal level. The UK is quite obviously failing to make best use of its human resources and the past investment that has been made in educating its workforce. In the science sector, in particular, another worrying consequence of the longstanding practice of creating the majority of new positions only for the young and newly qualified, is that a large portion of research is conducted by the least experienced people. How healthy can that be for UK science? And, indeed, the future economy as a whole, which is becoming increasingly dependent on the products of science and technology?
Bob Amess, Oxford
I am a 43 woman working in marketing. The most frustrating thing for me is that most marketing jobs seem to go through employment agencies and whereas I have a good success rate in getting jobs if I get an interview, they seem to thwart my attempts. Like one of your interviewees, I have found when registering with new agencies over the telephone, they are very enthusiastic initially because of my qualifications and experience but then right at the end of the conversation they always ask for me date of birth and you can hear the proverbial lead balloon going down with a bang.
Kim Bruty, Witney, Oxfordshire
I worked in a school for autistic children. I worked in the office and loved the job. I worked there for 5 years but the moment I was 65 years of age I had to leave, although I had the least sick leave of those in the office - 3 days in 5 years. I was fit and healthy and saw no reason why I had to retire. I was and am still capable of shorthand typing and computer work. I shall be very interested watching Panorama next Sunday.
Davina Walter, Birchington, Kent
It's true that most older employers want to surround themselves with young workers, mainly because they think it makes them appear younger by association. It's not so long since they were advertising for "dolly birds". It's high time that this disgraceful discrimination was banned by law.
Alan Harland, Scarborough
I too am struggling to get interviews for even the most basic admin jobs. This is despite having 12-15 years admin experience, trained and qualified as a staff nurse, have an M.Sc. in management, an international web master qualification and a fitness instructor qualification. I've worked as an IT support officer and a quality adviser. I have submitted about 100 applications in the last year. The only 4 jobs offered are for shelf-stackers. About 45 applications were to one local council and I have now taken the matter of my complete failure to get any interviews up with them such is my concern and dismay.
John Ward, Doncaster
I think there is ageism and it also has something to do with money. The more experience the higher salary that has to be paid and if one is employed by an LEA and in a final salary scheme then they will be paying your pension too from their council tax when you retire so why would they want to employ someone like you who is older. Better to employ an agency worker who cannot pay into your final salary scheme, has no entitlement to statutory sick pay and often to holiday pay, cannot pay superannuation (so the employer does not have to pay into a pension scheme either) or better still employ a younger person or someone from Australia who will be going home soon and will not be claiming salary increments or pensions.
Chris Gore, Richmond ,Surrey
In seeking work in law after 18 months "out" when my son became seriously ill, I have been phoned back countless times by agencies asking my age (date of birth), and from them no job offers have come. I have often been told my work experience does not "match" the skills required of the job, but this rarely appears the case from the advertised job spec.
Valerie Moore, Rugby, Warwickshire
I made an enquiry with a company for a sales job. The lady told me at aged 56 I would not be considered. When I asked why I was told that it would cost the company approx £70,000 to train me and they did not consider anyone over 50. I was shocked that she openly stated that their company was ageist. I have very little hope of finding employment at my age unless I start working for myself. Getting advice from the Job Centre is a no go. The older you get the harder it gets unless you want to collect trolleys at the local supermarket (no brainer jobs). The Americans have a very different view and are happy to employ retired people in many jobs.
Trevor Herrington, Ipswich, Suffolk
I was told I had comprehension difficulties and was too old to learn new things. I was labelled a slow learner and ridiculed and derided by work colleagues for it. The label blew my mind, not so much being considered elderly but the idea I had suddenly developed learning problems. I immediately went to the Open University knowing that any educational problems would be identified. In my last assignment I was graded 93 out of a 100 and the OU has literally helped put me back together again. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to the OU, I had always been considered a bright student in FE and HE and I now have my confidence back.
name and address supplied
I have been teaching for many years and was not intending to retire at 60, but it seems I have no option. I apply for many teaching posts but rarely get as far as an interview. It seems that experience counts for very little in the teaching profession these days. It all boils down to money..... younger teachers and those newly qualified are cheaper to employ.
Rosemary Graham, London
I had a problem working in Connecticut. From age 55, (an age when you can retire early at a much reduced pension) I and my colleagues were not given the latest software programs and twice offered an early retirement package. We were also bullied by a brown nosing manager, in my case after my boss, had left. I took the second retirement package because it became a matter of my health or my job. After retiring at 57 years I found it very hard to find a full time job in my field. My qualifications are a chemistry degree and nursing degree at masters level. Many jobs were open to me as a part timer with no health benefits. I finally decided to sell my home and purchase a smaller home in Massachusetts.
Jacqueline Tarney-Manuel, Plymouth
I am not surprised as this ties in directly with how the elderly are treated and viewed in this society - with not much respect. Youth is valued here above all else, at the expense of experience, loyalty and hard work. This attitude to older workers is not going to disappear until this society learns to value its older people. This group has much to offer given the opportunity to do so, but I personally don't see attitudes changing anytime soon.
Heather Chikwehwa, Swindon
Ageism! This is the curse and failing of this country. A wealth of experience is shunned because, I feel, bosses are shy of employing people who have greater experience than themselves. I have been in Telecoms for 30 years but since being made redundant at the end of last year (along with 2 other men of a similar age) I have not achieved any interviews, and am currently only able to get a part-time handyman role. Please contact me if there are any opportunities for a 56 year old healthy male.
Mike Wilson, Rickmansworth
I lived in Canada for 35 years. When the age discrimination act came into force, it did not make one bit of difference. The only thing that happened was that no employer talked about age. There is always another reason an employer can give to turn you down for a job. I had no problem getting work until I reached my forties. After that it was a steep climb uphill and I ended up in low paid unskilled work, or work paid by commission only, just to make ends meet. I do have my suspicions that the legislation in the UK will not make any difference to over 40's becoming more employed, just as it made virtually no difference in Canada.
Jacqueline Taylor, Bognor Regis
My ex employer has done even better. Somehow they managed to replace all British citizens over 50 with Indian citizens on work permit because all their former employees over 50 were useless.
Julian Brown, Borehamwood
My comment in December 2004, I passed an interview or so I thought for a school crossing attendant 17 hours per week and after passing the disclosure check here I am in 2006 still waiting. Is it due to my age? I shall be 56 in October
Bill Davidson, Dundee
In 2003 I applied for a sales position but at 44 I was considered too old for the job. I only found out because I happened to be in my friend's car when he recommended me for the position and the person he was talking to, immediately said that he considered me too old.
Without any consideration of my sales background, abilities, appearance, attitude or any other relevant factor, I was deemed too old to offer any benefit to the company. I did however go onto secure another position and in my first month on patch achieved over 800 percent of the target. I have since returned to running my own business, as I felt that as time went on the age discrimination could affect my long-term security. I would like to see age discrimination stamped out, it is a disgrace that people over 35 to 40 should be written off as too old, when they have so much to offer.
Mike Walton, Cannock, Staffs
We should have aptitude and medical tests available, rather than assuming that reaching an age means incapacity. We should take tests, including driving tests every 10 years.
Robert J M B, London
My company was taken over when I was aged 49. I was Group Financial Director at the time. I was told that I would have great difficulty in getting another job at the age of 49 and in view of the previously high post I had held. After five years out of work I became a semi-professional yacht racing skipper and delivery skipper. No chance of a job in finance.
Peter Mead, Colchester, Essex
I have been told that younger people are coming through and that I will find it difficult to find a job. I am 33.
Clive Williams, London
Age discrimination happened in my very first job as a telephonist in 1966. I was employed by doing the exact job as an older colleague but I was paid considerably less as I was under 18, although we had started training at the same time.
Lynette Davis, Bromley, Kent
I find it astonishing that people over 30 years old are attempting to apply for Graduate positions. People of this age have already had the opportunity to start work in trainee positions and it is disgusting that older people are trying to compete with young people who are applying for their very first job. I appreciate that older people are valuable, but they should know better than to apply for positions intended for inexperienced people.
Karl Kane, Huddersfield
Fully employed as software engineer until 50. One interview while looking for work during the last 12 months. Now retraining as a teacher.
John Wren, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
I'm just watching your programme on age discrimination and I had to tell you that I am the exception to both the age and gender discrimination rules. I have just been trained, over five months and at considerable expense to the organisation, for a completely new aspect of my job. I am female and I turned 59 on 22 March 2006. Do I feel fortunate? You bet I do.
Christine Davies, Stafford
I have found it also depends on the type of job. In the advertising sector I could not get a job when I was over 35. I then went to university, got a degree in computing, at the age of 39, but still had problems in getting a job. Over 300 applications and only 10 interviews.
Kevin Crowther, London
I am currently a student, and whilst I am only 22 years old I have noticed the effect that ageism can have. One of my very close friends, who graduated last year, aged 45 with a first class honours in economics with Spanish, and was the best student in his year. However he is still struggling to get a job, on the basis of his age. On a further point, some of the companies mentioned, Morgan Stanley, KMPG were two examples that spring to mind, are companies which can lead to high wages, and thus the possibility of retiring early is much higher. It is not surprising that the number of employees over the age of 55 is less. I do not dispute that there is an issue with ageism, I have seen the effects.
Hannah, Loughborough, Leics
This has gone on for years. I first noticed it when I was 35, when employers would openly tell me I was too old. It's very frustrating - I'm just completing a masters degree at Birkbeck at 48. At least there I've never felt discriminated against because of my age, but when applying for jobs, that's a very different matter.
If it's all right for companies to discriminate about age in the workforce, why does this not also happen in the boardroom? One rule for the rich, and one for the poor? Or just age-ploitation?
Michael Dalton, London
I worked for an American company until January this year. In restructuring I was made redundant and am 56, and what do you know ,the two others made redundant were also over 55 and its been happening for years. The new laws won't do anything to help .
John Veness, Eastbourne
I am 51 and I am a trained nurse. I also work with social work supporting the vulnerable for a few hours a week. I have been trying to get full time work in this area for some time. I have had many interviews but all to no avail I do believe that there is ageism in the work place. I am fit and healthy how dare these employers say that we are past our prime. I have many skills and definitely feel I am being discriminated against.
Linda Philip, Inverness Scotland
I have been very lucky as after fifteen years of working within the field of social work, at the age of 56, I am currently completing a university qualification provided by my employers who as part of this agreement will retain my services for the next two years. Life experience is an integral part of this and many other jobs and should not be overlooked by employees. As the retirement age is due to be raised for women, it is important to remember that I will need to remain in work for the next ten years, whereas many younger women will understandably want to take breaks from employment to raise families.
Hannah Jones, Guildford
I'm looking forward to October. I'm 54 and have been age-discriminated against for years. The government had better have their act together because I'll be going to tribunal/court. And so will a lot of older people.
Some well known companies will employ older people. Some people work from home, selling the products of a hobby. As the older population is growing, the govt should provide help and support to those people who want to have their own business, because this is the only way they can work.
JN Holt, Bolton
I am a teacher who will reach the age of 60 in June, just four months before the new law on retirement comes into being, so hard luck for all those who reach that awful age before then. It is time people in general woke up to the fact that we live with an ageing population and to disregard them is terribly short-sighted. Many of us will hopefully live as long as our parents and grandparents and therefore may have a jolly thirty years or more to enjoy enforced retirement.
Patricia Burton-Hopkins, Suffolk
I note that the BBC still insists on job applicants providing a date of birth and dates of education and an employment history with dates. I don't see that the BBC is rushing to anticipate the new law by removing such potentially discriminatory information from its application process, so why is it making this questioning the behaviour of other employers?
J Press, Gateshead
Ironically enough, ageism works both ways. I am 25 working in a security firm. I was the youngest member of the team but the most qualified. None of my fellow colleagues would listen to any advice I had to give. I went on the same course as everyone else and passed higher. Shortly after I was "pushed out" of the door because I made the management look incompetent.
William Gilbert, Wiltshire
I filled in a form as a temporary worker. The work involved placing people in jobs. At the end of the day, the manageress said that as I was just 66 I could not continue as they only employed people up to 65. I am a healthy graduate with top qualifications, but it didn't matter. I did a sit-down strike, so to pacify me they gave me a week's salary. I tried to sue, but gave up after two years of delays.
Anne Wotana Kaye, London
Not including the actors used, how many people over the age of 55 were involved in making your programme? What is the average age of the Panorama productions staff?
Paul, East Lothian
If judges are going to decide the cases of ageism, will they be biased towards people of their own age?
Michael Dalton, London
What about young people? I'm frankly disgusted about the Panorama programme that is on TV at the moment. No mention whatsoever of discrimination on the grounds of age against young people. I guess this is just the same as sexism against men being apparently non-existent.
Neil Monk, Mexborough, South Yorkshire
I attended an interview for a position as a Safety Health & Environment Manager in Cleveland. The interview went very well and I honestly believed that I would be offered the job at the end of the interview. At the end of the interview the interviewer asked my date of birth. When I disclosed this he was completely taken by surprise that I was over 60 and his attitude immediately changed towards me. He became disinterested and brought the interview to a very quick end.
Mike Hagger, Nottingham
If older people are so good, what's stopping them forming their own companies and giving the smart alec kiddiwink companies a good hiding?
Ron West, London
As a senior manager I was made redundant at 43 during a "down sizing". I was told by the recruitment agencies I contacted that I would find it difficult to find a company to take me on. I am now 57 and still haven't found a permanent job. They advised me to become self employed which is what I have had to do and life has been very hard as companies prefer to award contracts to large companies.
Jodi Ruben, Mansfield
As a qualified accountant aged 52 and made redundant last November I have found it very difficult to find employment. The charity Prime quotes research that of those made redundant over 50 only 1 in 10 will find full time employment. I am pleased to report receiving 2 job offers last week one of which I start tomorrow. I found the Not for Profit sector is far less ageist than the Commercial sector.
Charles Hurtley, Guildford, Surrey
I have been astounded while watching the programme tonight how easily older people are being written off by employers. I have not so far to my knowledge been discriminated against because of my age but it may be to come. I am 50 at the end of this year and should anything unforeseen happen in my current employment, for example redundancy, I may well come across it. What employers need to remember is the experience of the workplace older workers have. This cannot be bought, it has to be gained. I am pleased that Panorama has highlighted this problem, and I hope that the new legislation being introduced shortly will put an end to this clear ageism in the workplace.
Steve Fuller, Hove, East Sussex
I was twice redundant from financial services, firstly at 53, in 2001, and then at 56, in 2004. The first time I was able to use contacts in many parallel companies for short-term specialist work (in pensions review), but that eventually petered out. The second time I spent 8 months applying for clerical posts and generally being told that if I had not been invited for interview within x weeks of the closing date then I had not been successful. During this time I had 2 interviews, in Reading and London, but gained no job.
Malcolm Warburton, Sandbach
It is about time employers looked for experience, not just employment but life experience. An older person has just that, the only problem to an employer with a person of experience is they are not 'yes' men and cannot be easily intimidated or bullied.
Stuart Everard, Bolton Lancashire
Does this legislation cover pay? For example discriminating against those under the age of 18 by paying them less than the minimum wage?
Joe Crowdy, Cambridge
I left my job last summer as I wanted a career change. I am 37 years of age and I have only had one interview whilst job seeking. Only one recruitment agency specifically said that my age would work against me but I hadn't realised that 37 was over the hill! Other recruitment agencies just didn't ring me back.
Sarah Pond, Hitchin
Try the teaching industry for ageism and conservatism. Younger teachers are perceived as trainable and cheaper.
Richard Farrar, Sutton, Surrey
I have recently been approached by head-hunters regarding managerial vacancies as soon as I mentioned my age (52) I did not hear anything from them again
Michael Rose, Bristol
I didn't get interviews for a long time and finally got a job through a friend to get into teaching. I was made redundant in December 2005 because the funding stopped for students over the age of 19! Now I am a qualified tutor and cannot even get an interview. I am 45.
I work for one of the UK's leading banks at their telephone contact centre in Belfast. The company to advertise themselves as age positive but when recruiting it's often over shadowed by younger people who they can take in at the lowest basic rate and not have to pay anymore money because they're inexperienced.
Mark McCloskey, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Just watched the programme, and I have actually seen it a lot. However, younger people are being discriminated against. For example, I have a friend who also lives in Swindon, and he just cannot get a job as he is under 18. He has tried in something like 20 different places, and they have all said they want someone older, even for working in a clothes shop as a "Part Time Sales Assistant". When I got my job last year, none of this was a problem, but it has all happened for some reason. Just thought I'd let you know what it can be like at the other end of the scale.
I've seen workplaces turn down prospective employees because they're Asian or they've not passed their trial period because of their age or skin colour
I am a serving police officer. I started with the force when I was 42 and am currently 48. The force tells me that I must retire at age 55. As a CID Officer I feel most aggrieved and will resist this as best I can.
Paul Hackett, Shirland Derbyshire
As a computer programmer coming up to my 49th birthday and 30 years in the industry, I hope that your dire predictions for my employment future do not become fact for me. Touch wood, it has not yet (at least visibly) been a problem for me, possibly because earnings have never been at the top of my list of demands. A cautionary tale though; perhaps I should stay this side of the Channel.
Winston Gutkowski, Brussels, Belgium
I was made redundant in May 2004. Since then I have lost count of the number of jobs I have applied for. Some don't bother to reply, some do and say thanks but no thanks. I never had trouble getting a job before I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis and Fibromyalgia - now no one will touch me with a ten foot barge pole!
Shirley Cox, Tadworth
Excellent production. Thank you very much, please follow-up with more programmes over the next few years. I recently was out of work for 1 year, turned 41, I hope I pass my probation and never have to look for work again before I reach retiring age, I can only see the each period been longer and more frustrating, we need to change the culture and attitude, and watch out for loop holes in the new legislation.
Paul Kelly, Croydon
A couple of years ago, the local JobCentre had an advert for a job for those under 25. When I challenged this (I was 46) they said it was legal to be ageist, and kept the advert. Also, I had little or no work from agencies for several years, despite several years experience in administration. At least with the job I'm applying for now, my age (48) is an advantage (standing in local council elections).
Paul Harries, Gloucester