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older worker champion

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Dame Esther Rantzen







Dame Esther Rantzen, the renowned journalist and campaigner, and founder of Childline and The Silverline charities

What are the benefits of employing older workers (to employers, older workers, economy/society etc) – what do you bring to the party (personally, and older workers generally)?

Life experience, skills, hopefully a sense of humour, and the capacity, sometimes, to predict danger.   However, I sometimes have to fight the temptation to say, “yes, well, the last time I tried this…..” which depresses younger colleagues who believe, understandably, that their latest idea is brand new and has never been tried before.  And we older people must sometimes embrace change.   Too many have been warned so often that the internet is full of scammers, that they are reluctant to launch themselves onto the internet.  We know that  if they have learned to drive a car safely, they can drive a computer equally safely, as long as they follow a few simple rules.   I’m sometimes a bit stuck in my ways.  My daughter says I refuse to eat anything that was introduced after the 1950’s.   She’s wrong, I do eat avocados.  Though she is right about wraps and sushi.

What challenges are faced by older workers (any personal anecdotes) – how have/ have things changed what still needs to change, and how do we change it? 

Attitudes, many of which are ageist, sometimes deliberately, often unconsciously.  Our best vision mixer on That’s Life was sacked because she was older, but she remained as brilliant as ever.  And Mary, who used to meet and greet the participants in Newsnight, was also sacked when she turned seventy because she was the “wrong image for the programme,” although all the guests knew and respected her. However, employers also need to recognize that we oldies may have other priorities, rather than spending all their time working.  When you have limited time left, you don’t want to waste it.   As you know, nobody on their deathbed ever said “I wish I’d spent more time in the office.”

Your pearls of wisdom: What advice would you give to your younger self?

It’s OK to be ambitious, but don’t get anxious.  Worry is a waste of time.

Would you hire your future self (e.g. in 10 years' time)?

I’ll be 89 in ten years time, so may be considering retirement

And what advice would you give to older people looking for their next role?


Be prepared to work for people who are younger and less experienced, be relaxed and tolerant, but use the opportunity to mentor and guide

What would your Other Dream Job be?

Full time mother/ Grandmother

Are you an older worker champion?

Attitudes, many of which

are ageist, sometimes deliberately, often unconsciously.

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