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Why Companies In Argentina Are Hunting For Older Workers

Firms in Argentina are recruiting over-40s for their steady hand and people skills — and their affordability.

A businessman walks in Buenos Aires.
A businessman walks in Buenos Aires.
Gabriela Samela

BUENOS AIRES — There's some surprising good news for the 40+ generation in Argentina: Firms are loosening their longstanding youth-oriented recruitment preferences for positions ranging from customer service to product design. Beyond their experience, employers say this age group shows a greater commitment both to work itself and to their employers.

The Latin American classifieds site Navent has found that those older than 40 generally look for the same kinds of jobs as other age groups, with "commercial operations and sales' being the areas "with most movement," according to Navent Argentina's CEO, Federico Barni.

Navent has registered a widening age range in its recruitment postings for sales and post-sale services like customer care, as "firms have become more flexible, upwards," Barni said.

New generations do not have the work culture there used to be

Part of the reason is a growing awareness of the need for some workforce stability. "There is a lot of turnover with these positions, like call centers, sales, customer attention, supermarkets," Barni notes. "New generations do not have the work culture there used to be, nor think much in terms of a future with the company."

He adds that older workers may need a bit more training, especially in terms of technology; but they tend to be looking for stable, lasting positions.

Christian Bernal, the head of human resources at Walmart in Argentina, says the latest trends in recruiting include 40-something newcomers in cashier and clerk positions. For such positions, shops don't need applicants with prior experience but people "who are productive so customers are attended to as soon as possible and treated well and people who are patient and able to resolve new situations efficiently," Bernal says.

Carrefour supermarkets launched their Yo Trabajo (I Work) program in 2013 aimed at over-40s and coinciding with the launch of its Express stores. The firm wanted older people who were good at sales and had finished secondary school. The firm admits that initially it had to track recruits as their "learning curve was a little longer than than others," says Martha Benítez, a personnel executive at Carrefour. What older employees offer instead is an ability to talk to members of the public, "reading their needs and forging close ties."

Another supermarket chain, Día, has also begun recruiting retired people for customer service specifically as call operators and online assistants.

Gire, a financial technology firm, has combined the hunt for age diversity with a social mission, since older people often feel excluded like women and minorities, says Adrián Barreto, the firm's head of culture, community and communication. "Millennials have a "multi-window" perspective while older people have more focus when it comes to money matters," he says.

María Olivieri, head of Page recruiters in Argentina, confirms that the hunt for older workers is a region-wide trend. "The value seen in these professionals is their ability to transfer experience in cultural and economic terms," she says. "Aplomb is important, and older workers have it."

But there is also a "harsh reality" driving the new hunt for experienced workers: Older professionals in need of a job will work for less than before or the same rate as a young recruit —and their experience is thrown in as a free bonus.

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