Older workers facing “tsunami” of redundancies

By Ian Mean, Board member of GFirstLEP.. additional reporting by Nicky Godding, Editor of Business & Innovation Magazine
Older Workers

The majority of students at 25 British universities struggle to get a graduate job or progress to further study after their degrees, according to a recent report.

But what is probably more of an immediate worry is that older workers are now at risk from a tsunami of redundancies themselves.

Job losses among the over-50s have risen by almost 200 per cent in the last year.

About 107,000 were made redundant between November and January-an increase of more than 70,500 year on year.

This worrying study is by Rest Less, which advises and helps older people.

Do we put enough energy into re-training redundant older workers in their 50s.

No, we certainly don’t ,and it is high time the government really woke up to the fact.

These current figures are alarming with the redundancy rate for the over-50s the highest of any age group at 12.8 per 1,000 employees.

And there is an estimated 1.3 million workers over the age of 50 still on furlough.

These workers are under a real threat of losing their jobs as struggling employers must increase their furlough contributions from July.

I attend a lot of meetings about skills and job opportunities, and quite rightly, they centre around young people.

But rarely is there any real progress on developing re-training programmes and opportunities for these redundant over 50s, many of whom in this county are skilled workers.

I totally believe that the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee is something vital to every employee.

But what is actually happening now—not next year-about really getting to the heart of the displaced over 50s who often have so much experience to offer but need guidance and possible re-training in our changing digital economy?

The over 50s have made a great contribution to our economy. The very least we can do is help them to help themselves.

Harness the future using years of experience

By Nicky Godding, Editor of Business & Innovation Magazine

Before the pandemic there were already around 824,000 people age 50-64 in the UK who were not working but would like to be. But the over 50s have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic – since March 2020 there are 175,000 more 50-64 year olds now out of work, bringing the total to 340,000. While losing your job can be devastating at any age, evidence shows that those in this age group who lose their jobs are at greater risk of becoming long-term unemployed. Recent data from Rest Less suggests that people aged over 50 who lose their jobs are twice as likely as other age groups to be unemployed for at least two years which can mean older workers are forced into an early retirement they may not want or are unable to afford.

But even before the pandemic there were some worrying trends in employment figures among older adults, according to the London-based organisation Centre for Ageing Better. While there were growing numbers of those in their early 50s in employment, most older adults were dropping out of the workforce before state pension age – under half of men, and less than a third of women, are still in employment by the time they reach 65. For some this may be a positive choice but for others, falling out of the labour market is a cause of financial hardship and a risk to wellbeing.

Initial findings from the Centre for Ageing Better’s  ‘Shut out’ report show that many employers do not consider age when looking to improve diversity and inclusion in recruitment and the type of language used in job advertisements can deter older workers from applying.

But they should.

Here’s five reasons to add older workers to your staff roster

  • With age comes experience, which when deployed alongside the more creative ideas of youth can bring true innovation
  • Loyalty. Older workers have invariably learned what suits them best. They’re likely to be more settled and not to jump jobs as often
  • Established networks. Years of working have helped older workers build a valuable network of connections. We can all boast hundreds, possibly thousands of connections on LinkedIn. But if you’re under 30 – how many of them have you actually met and done business with? Oldies know more people!
  • Sharper decision-making skills. If you’re older, you’ll have invariably come across a situation before, and know better how to deal with it
  • Attitude. Older workers are more likely to understand the commitment needed to make a job successful