Richard Steer provides an interesting perspective on the age discrimination laws that come into force in October. He voices concern that lack of mobility at the top end of the age bracket will stifle prospects for younger entrants to the industry. However, this ignores a fundamental aspect of the demographic profile of the country and assumes the 1980s recession is the cause of the dearth of workers in the 35-40 age bracket.

There are more powerful forces in play, namely the shifting birth rates since the Second World War. Those early baby boomers from the 1950s have had the pick of the jobs, rising swiftly to positions of authority aided by a growing economy and the fact that many of their predecessors died in the war.

Those following immediately after are affected not only by recession, but by the newly entrenched upper echelons of industry who are still too young to retire, and greater peer competition for the few opportunities available. This has been a problem for 15 years, not one emerging because of these new laws. The industry has already lost talented individuals who have moved into other areas to try to achieve success.

Now we have to look at recruiting the baby boomers’ offspring. Our success or failure in attracting them to the industry will determine whether there will be a need for older workers to stay in the industry longer. We cannot rely on a migratory workforce to fill all our industry needs. We must be active in recruitment and creative in how we provide opportunities in the future. This may mean challenges to the traditional command and control structures, changes to remuneration policies and greater flexibility in working arrangements.

Heather Northey, N:management, London