The Red Cross urges companies to hire people over 45 years to avoid social exclusion
Antoni Aguilera Rodríguez. President of the Red Cross in Catalonia
Skills are the main criterion that should prevail when hiring. This is a statement which may seem common sense, but unfortunately, we have to repeat again and again, because the reality is quite different. In the twenty-first century, we still are forced to reiterate that people should not be discriminated against in the labour market for reasons of age, gender, origin or ideology.
From the Red Cross, we have found that people over 45 who we attend to are discriminated against in the labour market, a reality that concerns us, especially taking into account that most of them have dependents.
In Catalonia, our humanitarian institution has had an observatory called Vulnerabilidad (Vulnerability) since 2011, which produces studies to find out more about the needs of the people we serve, one of which is devoted to the impact of the crisis in over 45 years. This study, the sixth Vulnerability Observatory published in February 2014, is based on a survey of 963 users of the projects to combat poverty in the Red Cross of between 45 and 70 years old. Therefore, to interpret their findings, it is also essential to note that the sample corresponds to a vulnerable, rather than a general population group.
Of the total persons who responded, 83% are unemployed and 17% working, the majority are in poor condition, which is made even worse when you consider that 4 out of 10 has dependents under 16 years old. In fact, in recent times, the Red Cross is already warning of the growth of so-called "workers and working poor" and that 16% of new contracts have less than 8,000 Euros a year in wages. This figure, the Consell de Treball i Econòmic Social de Catalunya (CTESC), corresponds to the general population and confirms a trend among people in vulnerable situations, where its effects are felt much more sharply.
Less than 600 Euros per month income
51.5% of working respondents had an income of up to 600 Euros per month, because in many cases, they work part time. In addition, 17.7% reported working without contracts in the informal economy. In these circumstances, whether they are unemployed or have a precarious job, the families surveyed admitted not having income enough to meet their basic expenses. They reported the relationship between median income -from 300 to 600 Euros a month- and expenses -of 500 to 700-.
Because of the precarious economic situation, 43% of respondents had outstanding debts and 7 out of 10 were receiving aid from social organisations like the Red Cross or institutions to cover basic needs. Moreover, beyond the purely material, we should not forget the high emotional impact job loss has on people. So much so, that 27.7% of respondents were undergoing medical treatment for their emotional health.
For all these reasons, we need to urgently give job opportunities to this group of people of people of over 45 years old, which must highlight the added value of their superior professional experience and personal background. Among those surveyed, about 43% had been between 1 and 10 years in in their last job, and 10.2% over 10 years. In addition, 17.4% had a good level of education and professional training, and we should recall that the percentage refers to a vulnerable group, so it is presumably greater than that of the entire citizenry. "I have experience and I think that, and because of it, they should not judge me as being old" - said Encarna Bustos, 55 years old and recipient of Red Cross aid in Tarragona.