Around half a million Czechs are currently unemployed and with roughly 50 000 vacancies, it is clear that only one in ten applicants will succeed in finding a new job. The situation is all the more difficult for people over fifty, who often look for a job in vain before reaching retirement age. According to Nikola Šimandlová of the NGO Alternativa 50+, which has just launched a new project against ageism, discriminating people on the basis of age is becoming increasingly common:
“Age discrimination is the most common form of discrimination on the Czech labour market. We thought that for example gender will be a problem or people with some disabilities will be discriminated the most, but our research shows that age is the most common cause of discrimination.”
Within the group of people aged over fifty, which group is more affected, is it women?
“We cannot say if it is men or women who are more discriminated. But when we spoke to people over fifty who had some experience with discrimination, women definitely felt more discriminated than men. They feel more discriminated on the labour market not only because of age, but because of the combination of age and gender.”
What chance do people over 50 have to find a new job? How serious is the threat of never finding a job?
“People over fifty face serious problems when they lose their job. If they want to find a new one, they face discrimination from the very beginning, when they send their CV to a potential employer. Many employers told us that when they saw the year of birth in the CV, they would automatically put it away. The people are viewed not by their capacity, experience or by what they can actually do.”
So would you say that one of the main causes of age discrimination is stereotyping on part of employers?
“Yes. Older people are usually seen as not flexible, not creative and unable to use computers and modern technologies, who cannot speak foreign languages. They are seen as one group and that is not true. So we try to fight these stereotypes and to look at these people very individually.”
Today you presented a new project: a network of ambassadors Against Ageism. How exactly are they going to fight age discrimination?
“We try to show that ageism is a problem in the society and we want the public to learn about it. These personalities are very well known and we can show that they are also concerned about this issue. It is important for us that they will talk about the problem, share our videos, as well as our texts, researches and surveys. So thanks to these ambassadors we can spread the topic of age discrimination in the society.”
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