This article has been submitted by the Welsh Government.
A Newport law firm 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 do not have a best before date’.
HardingEvans has a long-term commitment to its staff and believes a multi-generational workforce is key to both a thriving business and its longevity. It uses experienced members of staff to train younger members in the ways of the business, its ethos and practices in a bid to safeguard the business for the future and equip the next generation of managers and leaders with the skills they need.
The company is 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.
A year ago HardingEvans launched its Pathway 2 Partnership programme as part of the firm’s wider strategy to identify and develop talent internally and is specifically aimed at nurturing and developing its future owners and partners.
The programme is designed to widen employees’ skills base beyond legal knowledge to include high-level managerial skills, focusing on mentoring, training and personal development. It also provides the opportunity to play a key role in realising the firm’s strategic aims.
Practice Director, Joy Phillips, who is also a mentor for the programme, said:
“The Pathway 2 partnership programme reflects our belief that our staff have the skills and potential to be the Partners of the future. With that in mind, they are now embarking on a challenging personal development path that will develop the broader strategic, financial and people management skills that are pre-requisites of partnership at HardingEvans, under the guidance of a senior member of the practice.
“This kind of progression programme is something you would ordinarily expect at a much larger practice, but we wanted to address the issues around developing and retaining talent. We offer our talented solicitors the chance to progress to Associate, Senior Associate or Partner level; opportunities which may not be readily available to them at larger firms.”
Joy, 57, is a mentor to Senior Associate, Siobhan Downes, a family lawyer specialising in childcare. Siobhan, 32, joined HardingEvans 11 years ago and qualified as a solicitor seven years ago.
“Being a mentor works both ways. As well as supporting and helping younger people coming through the business I also learn a lot from them. My younger colleagues are not afraid to challenge me and as a consequence I learn from them, all of which makes for a diverse workplace.
“People both young and old want to develop and if you don’t give them the opportunity then you will lose them. We believe having a multi-generational workforce not only benefits the individuals but will address any future skills shortages and again make a difference to the business in the long-term by securing our future owners.”
As part of Age of Investment, the Welsh Government has teamed up with BITC Cymru, Learning and Work Institute and Older People’s Commissioner to launch the ‘People Don’t Have a Best Before Date’ marketing campaign, designed to challenge the stereotypes of older workers and demonstrate their value in the workplace.
Joy 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.