GOVERNMENT figures released this week show an above average number of 50 to 64-year-olds are in employment in Swindon.

Just under 72 per cent are in work, with the average being 67.7 per cent, putting Swindon in the top third of local authorities for older workers with jobs.

It comes as work continues from a variety of agencies to stamp out the stereotypes that older workers have nothing to offer employers.

The Government is also trying to get the message across that people dropping out of the workplace has a negative effect on the economy through lost labour.

The news that Swindon is one of the top employers has been welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce, which says there are many benefits to hiring older workers, including the experience they bring.

Clair Prosser, the policy executive, said: “Older workers have a lifetime of skills and experience to bring to the table: communication skills, writing, spelling and grammar. And perhaps, most importantly, crisis management and ‘thinking outside of the box’ when problems arise.

“But an important aspect is that any successful workforce needs a mix of ages and skillsets to work at its best.

“So a workforce across the age spectrum will be the strongest. Such experiences from an older workforce are shared down the employee age chain – to the younger workforce.

“Feeding valuable knowledge along this chain is key for younger staff to develop quickly. And regular presence in an office by an older workforce means they are looked up to by younger colleagues. In essence, older workers provide a glowing wisdom.”

Swindon is home to a number of major employers. Among them is Nationwide which has led the way in making sure it has a diverse workforce and several years ago removed the retirement age completely.

Nationwide’s Director of Human Resources, Keith Astill said: “Nationwide has a relationship with one-in-four UK households, and quite simply it makes good business sense to have a workforce that reflects our diverse membership.

“As a result we work hard to ensure we employ a spectrum of people from within the communities we serve, regardless of background. Like gender, faith or ethnicity, age shouldn’t be a barrier to work.

“The important thing to consider is whether the person can do the job and if their values are aligned to ours as an organisation.

“As a diverse employer, we’ve really pushed ourselves to lead in this area, and in 2005 we became the first major UK organisation to change its employment policy so that employees could work until the age of 75. Then, in 2011, we removed the retirement age completely.

“Today, some 16 per cent of our staff are aged 50 and over, with two per cent aged 60 and above.

“Having a blend of experience helps this and it’s no coincidence that Nationwide has the most satisfied customers on the high street compared to our peers.”