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2021.10.24 10:00

Are middle-aged people in Lithuania discriminated by employers?

Radvilė Rumšienė, LRT.lt2021.10.24 10:00

Dalius is a man in his 50s, with education in economics and a strong CV. However, he said age discrimination may has prevented him from getting a job.

“I am 58 years old. I am an economist. Until the age of 50, I managed my own company. For the last eight years, I have been actively looking for a job. I send my CV to several employers every day,” Dalius told LRT.lt.

“I have stopped looking for a job matching my education long ago. I would agree to take up any physical or unskilled work. But I never hear back,” he added.

A long job search has hit his self-esteem, Dalius said.

According to Inga Ruginienė, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation, “age discrimination exists” in Lithuania, as “we often hear from such [discriminated] people”.

Amid staff shortage after the pandemic, employers say that they would hire anyone willing to work. However, trade unions are not convinced.

Most employers prefer to hire younger people who can sacrifice more time and energy to the job, according to Ruginienė. But as society ages, companies will have no choice but to start hiring middle-aged workers, she added.

Outdated qualifications

According to employers, a willingness to work is not always enough, as candidates must also have qualifications that the elderly may sometimes lack.

“The situation has changed and previously acquired education does not impress employers anymore,” said Danas Arlauskas, president of the Lithuanian Employers’ Confederation. “Employers need skills. Some education is obsolete because many things, including technology, business models, have changed.”

The situation could improve “if there were functioning retraining programmes in Lithuania”, he added. But the current system is “inflexible”, as retraining is usually linked to specific projects and people become redundant again after they end.

According to the Lithuanian Public Employment Service, employers do not discriminate against middle-aged people.

This year, around 11,000 people aged 50 and over found work via the Employment Service’s Vilnius Office, said its representative Jurgita Bražinskienė. In total, 67 percent of people in this age group, who were registered at the office, managed to get a job. Among all age groups, the success rate was 80 percent.

Most of the people aged 50 and over found employment in cleaning companies or manufacturing. In rural provinces, the agricultural sector also actively employed people from this age group.

According to the Employment Service, it offers retraining programmes to people who cannot find a job to match their education, as well as provides comprehensive assistance in labour market integration.

“In finding employment and changing qualifications, a person’s motivation and preparedness to change one’s life and profession are the most important. We communicate with those people and encourage them,” Bražinskienė said.

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