Over-50s experience chronic worklessness

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This is a real problem which I have suffered from in the past 2 years. I have applied for hundreds of jobs which I know I am capable of as I have over 20 years of HR experience and am a Chartered ...


Read More Nick Dufton
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Around 3.3 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 are not in work

Employers and government need to “radical[ly] rethink” how to tackle chronic worklessness among the over 50s, according to a report from the Centre for Ageing Better.

The research estimates that 3.3 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 are not in work, with 29% recorded as ‘economically inactive,’ meaning they are not engaged in the labour market in any way. This is more than twice the rate of those aged 35-49 (13%).

Once out of work, people aged over 50 were found to struggle to get back into the labour market more than younger age groups. Some 38% of unemployed over 50s have been out of work for over a year, compared to 19% of 18- 24-year-olds.

Jemma Mouland, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said employers need to look at how older workers are treated. “Our research finds that changes are needed at every level,” she said. “It is not a problem that national government or employment and skills services alone can fix. Poor health and caring responsibilities are some of the most common barriers experienced by older workers, so it is important that health and benefits systems are more joined up and focused on helping those over 50 stay in work, or get back into employment.

"Employers too need to value their older workers more, offer them greater support and flexibility and stamp out ageist employment practices.”

She warned of the impact losing a job can have on an older person. “Too many older workers are currently being pushed out of the workforce because of poor health, caring responsibilities, or redundancy,” she said. “Once they have lost their jobs, over 50s struggle much more than any other age group to get back to work, which is costly personally and financially for them, with impacts lasting well into later life. Given that we are all working for longer and our workforce is ageing, we need urgent action to break this vicious circle.”

Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA,) said that the report makes for “alarming reading.”

“With people spending longer in education and living longer, we simply cannot afford to compress working lives like this,” he said. “It will be hard, if not impossible, for them to save for a longer retirement – bearing in mind that those in their 50s now may live well into their 90s.”

Comments

This is a real problem which I have suffered from in the past 2 years. I have applied for hundreds of jobs which I know I am capable of as I have over 20 years of HR experience and am a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD so should know what I am doing. I started applying for roles at the same level as that I last occupied but when I was overlooked at that level I went progressively lower in an attempt to get any job. However, going lower means you are over qualified, over experienced, and although you know the salary the job attracts in the eyes of the employer you are too expensive as why would you want to take a lower salary. Add to that when you are out of work for some time your confidence goes and you have to create reasons why you have a gap in your cv and how you have been filling such a gap. I am commenting as I want to show it’s not just other industries where there is out right Ageism but in my opinion it’s rife in our Human Resources function where we should know better that the older you are then the less attractive you are to the job market. I am now employed again and as far as I can tell my employers are delighted with my efforts so far. I am doing no more than I would have done for any of the other hundreds of jobs I was overlooked for and have accepted that my monetary worth is less than it used to be but to be valued and employed is a wonderful thing after a long gap. I am not sure what the solution is really as it’s dealing with people’s perceptions and that will never change. Anuounger Manager is less likely to pick someone who is more experienced or qualified than they are. It’s human nature not to give yourself a threat to your own existence like that. Government money could be wasted if that is considered a solution! People perception will still exist.


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