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Mid-life worker

Focusing on the fix: tailoring approaches to help over-50s back to work

Older jobseekers in the Greater Manchester area will be at the centre of a new pilot being developed to help over-50s to rejoin the workforce.

Our Senior Programme Manager for Work, Jagdeep Soor, writes about the 'Greater Manchester Employment Support for Over-50s' pilot programme and the importance of developing new methods for supporting older jobseekers. 

A proactive method for tackling unemployment in older people is on its way to development in Greater Manchester, aiming to help the UK’s estimated 800,000 people aged 50 to 65 who would like to be working but aren’t.

Fulfilling work is fundamentally important to enjoying a good later life. People who are able to keep earning and contributing to pension funds for longer are less likely to endure poverty in later life. Quality of work is also important, as we know that poor quality work can be as bad for you and your mental health as unemployment.

But older jobseekers have a much harder time finding work than their younger counterparts. Job loss after the age of 50 is 33 per cent more likely to lead to long-term unemployment than job loss in those under 50s – leaving many older people stuck in an unemployment trap. Ageism in the recruitment processes and inflexible employers are leaving too many over-50s locked out of work, and the current model of jobseekers support just isn’t working for this age group.

Research we completed in the Greater Manchester area in 2017 showed us the problems. Older people surveyed said that while skill-training courses are available to them, the skills were not always translatable to jobs on offer. Many of those surveyed also had a health issue or caring duties that meant attending long training sessions was not manageable.

Poor health, caring responsibilities and redundancy are the most common reasons older people leave work. It’s important that people are supported with retraining for new roles and industry, and supported to find work that is flexible and allows them to manage personal needs. Many workers who left work before retirement age said a small workplace adjustment would have allowed them to continue working.

We know that we need to do more to support older jobseekers, but we don’t yet know the best way to help.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Department of Work & Pensions to develop the ‘Greater Manchester Employment Support for Over-50s’ pilot programme. We’ll be trialing new and innovative methods of employment support services and skills provision, with the goal of finding best practice in supporting older jobseekers back into fulfilling work. Learnings from this pilot will be used to develop scalable and sustainable employment support service models that will go on to inform national policy.

With fewer school leavers than job vacancies, and with new immigration rules set to restrict the number of workers coming into the country, older people are crucial to maintaining the UK’s economy now and into the future. This means we need to help older workers to stay in employment for longer as well as support older jobseekers who want to reenter the workforce.

The launch of this pilot builds on work already being done to improve healthy ageing in the Greater Manchester area. We’ve been working in a five-year strategic partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority since 2016, which enables GMCA to become an early adopter of best practice and to pilot innovative approaches to ageing.

Pilot programme announced to help over-50s back to work

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Jagdeep Soor
Senior Programme Manager – Fulfilling work