Tag Archives: older jobseekers

Age of opportunity: Recruiting and retaining older workers

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This blog was contributed by Joanne Sawyer, Policy Adviser at Age UK

An ageing population, the end of forced retirement and a rising State Pension age, mean that there are now more older workers (those aged 50 or over) in the jobs market.  This trend is projected to increase over the next decade – between 2012 and 2022 there will be an extra 3.7 million workers aged between 50 and State Pension age.  Alongside this, given population changes, there will be fewer younger people entering work.  Employers and recruiters consequently need to embrace the ageing demographic of the workforce.

Working life for the over 50s

However, although the overall increase in employment rates among older workers is welcome, it does not tell the full story of working life for the over 50s.  Perceptions and stereotypes of older workers – usually negative – are still firmly held, and challenging these is vital for individuals, employers and society. They affect the way that older workers are treated when in work (e.g. in accessing training or promotion opportunities) and when out of work (e.g. long-term unemployment is a particular problem for the over 50s, with 44% of those who are unemployed having been out of work for over a year, compared to 32.0% for all 16-64 year olds).  Ensuring that older workers are not forced out of the labour market, and providing appropriate support to those who find themselves unemployed, remains crucial if we are to avoid storing up social problems for the future.

A Best Practice Guide for Recruiters

Age UK believes that it is in everyone’s interests for people to be able to remain in work for as long as they desire and are capable of doing so, and that no-one should be disadvantaged because of their age.  This is why we have partnered with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation to produce a best practice guide for recruiters.

Recommendations include:

  • Understand the benefits of recruiting older workers and promote the business case for employing this age group to clients.
  • Look beyond the stereotypes.
  • Provide information, advice and training to recruitment staff to help them understand and overcome the barriers faced by older jobseekers.
  • Be mindful of the language used in job adverts.
  • Seek to use a diverse range of platforms to advertise jobs.
  • Designate an internal advocate for older people.
  • Forge links wherever possible with welfare-to-work providers and Jobcentre Plus.

We call on all recruiters and employers to look beyond an individual’s age and make best use of the available skills and expertise of all workers.

Read the best practice guide for recruiters 

Read consumer advice about employment on the Age UK website 

Guest blog – Striking a blow against age discrimination

This blog was contributed by Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAEN – The Age and Employment Network

1st October – UK Older People’s Day and the UN International Day of Older Persons – saw the launch of a petition against age discrimination in the labour market. With age discrimination in employment made unlawful in the UK since 2006, it may come as a surprise to learn that this is needed, yet age discrimination in the job recruitment process seems to be a common experience.

The idea for the petition – led by TAEN – The Age and Employment Network – came after increasing evidence that age discrimination carries on regardless when people are recruited into new jobs.OlderWomanCallCentre

The problem is that age discrimination in recruitment is very hard to prove. So long as we have not eradicated ageist attitudes these can be expressed in the hidden, sometimes unconscious, always irrational prejudices of recruiters. Continue reading

Making the Work Programme work for older jobseekers

It has been widely reported that that the Government’s flagship back-to-work scheme, the Work Programme, was failing to help the unemployed back into work and was accused by the Labour Party of being ‘worse than doing nothing’. While we don’t agree with this view, it’s clear the Programme has had some teething problems, particularly for the over 55s involved.

To quickly re-cap, the Work Programme is a major policy costing between £3 and £5 billion over five years, aimed primarily at the long-term unemployed. It uses private companies (‘contractors’) to help people return to work. And to clarify a common misunderstanding, it is not the same as the different but much talked about scheme where jobseekers do unpaid work experience at a business or other organisation!

NOT WORKING FOR OLDER JOBSEEKERS

Age UK has now had a detailed look at the results by age group to find out how successful it was for older jobseekers and  published a briefing.

While the Work Programme came in below expectations for everyone, it is even worse for the over 55s (see chart below. This shows the proportion of people sent on to the Work Programme who entered and remained in a job for at least three months).

The over-55s suffer a drop in successful job outcomes of nearly 30 per cent compared to the average for the under-55s (interestingly, the 50-54 age group have the same outcomes as 45-49s). The age profile of the job success rate is shown below.

This is a huge shortfall and represents a huge problem because the Work Programme appears to be failing to tackle the barriers faced by older jobseekers – it is simply not offering sufficient support.

job-outcome-chart

OVER 55s STRUGGLING TO FIND WORK

For anyone who loses their job once over the age of 50, it can be very difficult to move back into work. So it would be expected that the Work Programme would be less successful for older jobseekers, right? Well yes, and no.

Because the Work Programme is a labour market tool designed to improve job outcomes, it’s possible to change how it operates. Doing so could correct the natural imbalances found within the labour market which almost always harm the prospects of disadvantaged groups, including older jobseekers.

Our briefingrecommends several ways of changing the Work Programme without hampering contractors’ freedom to operate as they choose.
This could be by paying contractors more to place over 55s into jobs or by moving people to the Work Programme after six months unemployment rather than 12 – giving the right support earlier can help, although ‘right’ is the key word here. Measures such as these could make all the difference.

But it seems clear that if nothing changes, older jobseekers will continue to find themselves cut out of the workforce, often permanently, while being expected to wait longer before being able to draw their state pension.

Read  the full Age UK briefing ‘The Work Programme and older jobseekers’

Find out more about Work and Learning on the Age UK website

Guest blog – Working beyond retirement age

This guest blog was contributed by Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAENThe Age and Employment Network. 

The idea of a given ‘retirement age,’ when most people abruptly cease work, may soon be a thing of the past. While it is important not to exaggerate this trend, we can’t just ignore it.

Every day, it seems, the media carries stories about how people will have to work longer. Sarah O’Grady recently wrote in the Daily Express under the headline, ‘Millions must work forever.’

A sense of proportion is important. Currently more than 90% of people over 65 are not in work and the majority are retired. Of those over 65 who want to work, most are concentrated in the 65-70 age bracket.

However as the state pension age rises, if finances become more difficult and if more employers create age friendly workplaces, we may see more people working much longer.

Nobody has a clear picture of how many pensioners would prefer to be in work. Not entitled to claim unemployment benefit or support from Jobcentre Plus, it seems once claiming the state pension, one is forgotten as a worker. Continue reading