A SUSSEX town has been named as a haven for workers over-50 with one of the highest proportions of employees that age in the country.

Horsham is the sixth highest employer of 50 to 64-year-olds with more than 84% of that population estimated to be currently in employment.

The market town has been praised as leading the charge against "outdated" stereotypes of older workers, according to a Government study.

Meanwhile, less than seven out of ten of Brighton and Hove’s 50 to 64-year-olds were in employment.

Business figures in the West Sussex town said the news was a mixed blessing – showing that past stereotypes of older workers no longer fit to work were being turned on their head, but worries that increasing economic concerns were meaning workers had to stay on at work for longer. Bosses also said the much-publicised attempts by some national employers had helped to remind people of the value and benefits of employing experienced workers.

Arun was the second highest employer of 50 to 64-year-olds with an estimated 80.6%, followed by Crawley with 79% and then Adur, Eastbourne, Lewes, Mid Sussex and Wealden all seeing more than three-quarters of older workers in employment. Less than seven out of ten of Brighton and Hove’s 50 to 64-year-olds were in employment while Worthing had the lowest proportion of experienced workers with an estimated 61.7%.

Anne Swain, from the Business Resource Centre in Horsham and secretary of the town’s chamber of commerce, said it was positive that workers over-50 were now not automatically “written off”.

She said: “I don’t know why it’s particularly Horsham but the businesses I deal with tend to find that old workers are more reliable.

“It’s not very PC, but if they are women, they are not going to get pregnant so employers don’t have to worry about maternity leave.

“Old workers usually have a bit of experience and if they haven’t been in work for a while, they are usually quite keen and willing to retrain if necessary. One factor could be in the current economic climate they are left with no choice but to keep on working if their private pension has been affected.”

Dr Ros Altmann, the government’s business champion for older workers, said:“Older workers have a huge amount to offer any workforce.

“They generally have unrivalled life and work experience, often boast a broad range of skills and, according to many employers I’ve spoken to, tend to display great attitude and work ethic.”