27/01/2004

Age Positive campaign launched in Belfast

The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment have launched a new Age Positive Northern Ireland campaign, which is aiming to change attitudes by eradicating outdated stereotypes and encouraging employers to adopt good age practices in order to benefit both their businesses and individuals.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Ian Pearson, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment said: "In the UK today, nearly one in four people is unable to get a job due to one of the least known forms of discrimination. It isn’t because of their sex, race or a disability, but because they are considered “too old” or “too young”. Through the Age Positive Northern Ireland campaign, I want everyone to join in tackling age discrimination at work and enjoy the benefits of an age diverse workforce."

Dame Joan Harbison, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said: "We are delighted to be part of the launch of this Age Positive campaign. It marks the start of a two-year countdown to the introduction of new employment legislation, which will make it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their age."

The Age Positive campaign will recognise and influence the attitudes and practices of employers and their staff. The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment will shortly be issuing a voluntary Code of Practice on Age Diversity in the workplace as part of this campaign. This will provide guidance on how to eliminate age discrimination by tackling six phases of the employment cycle that workers face – recruitment, selection, promotion, training and development and redundancy and retirement.

The Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment to be issued by DETI will be voluntary, but the anti-discrimination Age Positive NI campaign also aims to pave the way for European-wide legislation, which will be introduced as law in the UK in 2006. The campaign also encourages companies to employ good age practices by following the guidelines set down in the Age Positive voluntary code, a practical guide for business.

The Department’s Permanent Secretary, Bruce Robinson, said: "Prejudice is an expensive business. The Employer’s Forum on Age report, ‘Ageism: Too Costly To Ignore’ estimated that institutional ageism cost the country £31 billion a year. Everyone needs to start combating age discrimination now and open the workplace up to the variety of talent and experience different ages bring to the job."

(KMcA)

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