14 Jul 2020
Ahead of the chancellor’s economic update, we're warning that urgent action is needed to prevent over 50s falling out of the workforce in the wake of the lockdown, which would leave them struggling financially for years.
Older jobseekers face a series of barriers to finding work, with some feeling left ‘on the scrapheap’, according to a new report by the Centre for Ageing Better. The report, on improving employment support for over 50s, warns that older workers will be amongst the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, and without the right support could spend years out of work and struggling financially. With the State Pension Age rising to 66 this year, the Centre for Ageing Better says a more tailored approach is needed to support longer working lives.
The report, ‘Back on track: improving employment support for over 50s jobseekers’, identifies a number of barriers faced by over 50s seeking employment, including a lack of confidence from jobseekers in their own ability and in their perceived employability. Unsuitable training, changes to the ways that jobseekers are expected to find and apply for jobs, and underdeveloped digital skills add to this group’s difficulties. In addition, many have caring responsibilities or health needs, and there is a lack of opportunities for flexible working to accommodate these needs.
In response, the Centre for Ageing Better says that better support is needed for people over 50 to find employment. Employment support needs to help them navigate new job application processes, offer training that’s relevant to their experience, and take into account health issues and caring responsibilities.
On Wednesday the chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to set out support for those who have lost jobs to retrain in his ‘summer update’ on the state of the economy. Ahead of this, the report’s authors warn that over 50s are likely to be hard hit and need specific support. Without measures to stop them falling out of work, and tailored employment support to get back into work, this group could struggle to get by financially for years.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“This report, which draws on the experiences of over 50s accessing employment support, shows just how many barriers older jobseekers face when trying to get back into work.
“From inflexible employment opportunities that don’t take health needs or caring responsibilities into account, to training that doesn’t meet people’s needs, it’s clear that employment support services aren’t giving jobseekers in their 50s and 60s the support they need.
“As we begin to see huge job losses as a result of COVID-19, this support is more crucial than ever. If over 50s who lose their jobs or are made redundant in this crisis aren’t helped back into work, they are likely to struggle financially for the rest of their lives, spending down any savings they had built up and having to rely on benefits.”