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Halen Môn Shows its Commitment to Older Workers

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This article was submitted by the Welsh Government

A family-run Anglesey business has shown its commitment to investing in its older employees’ skills by backing a new Welsh Government campaign designed to challenge stereotypes and show ‘people don’t have a best before date’.

Eluned Davies is a 64 year old Project Manager at Tŷ Halen, Anglesey Sea Salt’s new award-winning Saltcote and Visitor Centre. She and the company are supporting the Welsh Government’s Age of Investment initiative launched during Skills for Work Week, which highlights to employers across Wales the importance of retaining their older workers.

It warns employers that within the next five years, one in three people of working age will be over fifty. Therefore, investing in skills throughout an employee’s working life has never been more important.

Key to Eluned’s contribution to the success of Halen Môn has been sustained development of her skills, which has seen her move from setting up accounting systems to her board position today.

“I’ve worked all my life, but feel like I’ve never worked in my life,” said Eluned. “I’ve loved each job I’ve done – they’ve been like hobbies that I’ve been paid for.”

Eluned first worked with the founders of Anglesey Sea Salt when she established her own consultancy business after leaving local government 20 years ago, and helped set up a stock and accounts system. She then went on to manage a Llanberis visitor attraction, then assistant to the directors at a Beaumaris hotel, followed by a position as managing director of a social enterprise and, after a few years working on task and finish projects for the local wildlife trust, she retired.  That is when she was asked to help with funding bids for the Saltcote and visitor centre, before being invited to join the board as a non-executive director, overseeing and monitoring performance reports for the funders.

Eluned now oversees the visitor centre and shop:

“I sometimes work evenings – if a group want an evening visit, I don’t like to say no. One of the most satisfying parts of the job is taking people who think salt is just salt on tours and seeing that attitude change as they leave as ambassadors for Halen Môn.

“I try to help the owners, David and Alison, as much as I can. For example, working on our key performance indicators, particularly those associated with the company’s commitment to sustainability.”

The company has recognised the value of Eluned’s experience and what she can bring to the wider workforce.

“It is amazing to think of the skills you collect through a career, the amount you learn and the confidence you build just by tackling issues that need addressing. I’ve always had a ‘can-do’ attitude, and have always tried to spread this approach among the teams where I have worked. If colleagues realise you have confidence in their ability to learn new skills, they tend to want to try their hardest.”

David Lea-Wilson, co-founder of Halen Môn, said:

“Eluned is the glue that holds the visitor centre together – someone who brings a lifetime of experience in public, private and third sector work to the business.

 “Age is just a number at Halen Môn. We routinely treat all colleagues and job applications equally, regardless of age.”

The latest training and development initiative has seen all visitor centre staff, aged between 21 to 64, complete a Disability Awareness course to enhance the experience for tourists.

 As part of its Age of Investment initiative, the Welsh Government has teamed up with BITC Cymru, Learning and Work Institute and the Older People’s Commissioner to launch the ‘People Don’t Have a Best Before Date’ campaign, designed to challenge the stereotypes of older workers and demonstrate their value in the workplace.

Eluned is one of eleven employees selected from a cross-section of exemplar Welsh businesses that have shown a commitment to investing in an all-age workforce to feature in the campaign. It will combine radio and digital advertising and downloadable advice guides and toolkits to illustrate to employers the tangible business benefits of creating a skilled, effective, multi-generational workforce.

Commenting on the launch of this campaign and highlighting why it has never been more important for companies to recognise how valuable their older worker are.

Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, said:

“Older workers are vital for the future prosperity of our economy and our businesses. Retaining people, developing their skills throughout their working life and recruiting older workers has never been more critical to business survival as well as growth.

“Our workforce in Wales is getting older and young people joining the labour market will not fill all of the vacancies. This campaign is designed to encourage all employers – but particularly SMEs, where the loss of skills and cost of recruitment can be more consequential – that they need older workers to survive and grow.

“We hope it will reinforce the issue to Welsh businesses of all sizes and give them practical advice on how they can manage and retain the skills and experience of their older workers, and appeal to the market of older recruits.”

For employers looking for more information on how they can invest in the skills of their older workers, the Welsh Government’s Skills Gateway for Business – https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/ has a range of advice and guidance.