Ageist culture in the workplace needs to change - Dalli

Minister Helena Dalli and parliamentary secretary for active ageing Justyne Caruana address a seminar on active ageing, organized by the OHSA

Minister Helena Dalli has highlighted the positive aspects of employing older persons, quoting studies that show that older workers take less time off work, including sick leave, and are more loyal to their employers. 

"They also are statistically less likely to have accidents at the workplace. These factors offset the diminishing physical strength that comes with ageing," said Dalli.

Speaking at a seminar on Occupational Health and Safety organised by the Active Ageing unit this morning, the minister described discrimination in the workplace as a major stressor for older workers.

The event was well attended by social workers and medical professionals. Representatives from various organisations that represent or work with the elderly including the General Workers Union, Mater Dei hospital, St Vincent de Paule Residence, the Occupational Health and Safety Authority, Karin Grech hospital, occupational therapists, the University of Malta, Caritas and the National Council for the Elderly.

"We need to change the present attitude, a culture change to combat ageism. Unfortunately we have received increasing reports of agesim in the workplace." 

"We can pass laws in parliament but the culture has to change and the point of seminars like this is to highlight this issue to employers. We have to teach society that this mentality has to change," said the minister, quoting statistic that show that

One in seven persons have seen discrimination at the workplace.

"Today we are increasingly focusing on adding life to years, not just adding years to life". The Lifelong Learning programme is one of several initiatives offered that do this.

Dalli encouraged the elderly to maintain an active lifestyle, within their abilities. "Informatics are a good way to maintain mental acuity. Use it or lose it"

Employers are encouraged to view older workers as assets with vast experience upon which to call. The relationship between productivity and age is a complex one due to factors such as experience, loyalty and maturity. "Let us look at the benefits of employing older workers".

The seminar was also addressed by parliamentary secretary for the rights of persons with disability and active ageing Justyne Caruana.

"There is a need for change. Stakeholders have to work hand in hand to deal with the reality of an aging workforce".

"Demographic studies predict an increase in older workers and a decrease in younger workers. Between 2011 and 2012, only a 3% increase in older workers was registered, compared to the EU's 11% average. These numbers are a cause for concern to us because it means social exclusion is prevalent.

These numbers are people".