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Older Workers Take Centre Stage as a North Wales Theatre Plans its Future

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This article has been submitted by the Welsh Government.

A north Wales theatre 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’.

Pat Nelder is 66 and joined Theatr Clwyd in Mold in 1978 as Deputy Chief in the stage lighting department, just two years after the theatre opened. Nearly 40 years later he has been appointed Capital Development Associate with a remit to help lead the team redeveloping the centre ready for the next 40 years.

Pat and his employer are now 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.

Pat said:

“I developed my skills here in Theatr Clwyd. I moved through different roles and, before this current role, became technical and development coordinator. I’ve so many good memories, almost too many to mention. Unforgettable meetings with actors like Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to be working in this new role, shaping the theatre for the future. Even though I started here at 28 and am now past formal retirement age I can still remember and benefit from the first jobs I had and the people who taught me. It’s the same for a lot of the people who’ve learned their trade at Theatr Clwyd. It’s rewarding for us to do the same for young people coming in, to pass on what we’ve learned to others.”The theatre has a number of systems in place to ensure continuous development for its people and to encourage older employees like Pat to pass on their skills to younger staff who come to work there.

“Whenever new people join us you can see their skillset developing in front of your eyes,” Pat explained. “It was the same for me 38 years ago. And I’m still learning.”

Liam Evans-Ford, Executive Director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold, said:

“The longer-serving staff at Theatr Clwyd enjoy the energy of new people and embrace the change while wanting to share their knowledge. Meanwhile those new people see what the team have already created and want to benefit from their experience. It works brilliantly.”

 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 for Wales 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.

Pat is one of ten 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.