Whilst the furlough scheme continues to be extended, there are reportedly around 377,000 older workers who are at risk of losing their employment, according to the Centre for Ageing Better and the Learning and Work Institute. That constitutes one in ten male, and eight in ten female workers in their 50s and 60s who will likely have to find alternative employment or make their income elsewhere.
This is not the first indicator of people in that age bracket being economically affected by the pandemic. In March there were around 304,000 over 50s claiming unemployment-related benefits. This number almost doubled to 588,000 in June, meaning that there are more over 50s claiming universal credit than there are under 25s. This may, in part, be linked to the UK’s ageing population, as within 20 years we can expect one in four people to be over 65.
While 35% of those over 50 who lose their job are recorded to return to work “quickly”, according to an analysis of data from the Department for Work and Pensions by the Centre for Ageing Better, this places the over 50s as the least likely of all age groups to find fast employment after being made redundant, with 29% finding themselves unemployed for over 12 months. These figures paint a particularly stark view of events as the current labour market problems come on the back of a trend of extremely high employment rates for older workers.
What can be done
There is, thankfully, something that those over 50 have to their advantage. Experience within the workplace is an invaluable asset, and while the job market is particularly strained at the moment, there are roles available and opportunities for starting new businesses exist. Despite the broader circumstances, there are sectors that are still hiring, specifically retail, farming, financial services, care and tutoring. Your experience can be used in your favour by positioning yourself as a mentor and teacher.
Now may be the time for those with decades of working experience to take their employment into their own hands and consider the path of entrepreneurship. In fact, businesses started by those aged over 45 have proven to be more likely to achieve success than those started by those in the 18-25 age range.
The opportunity to embark upon a second career of your choosing can be daunting, but also liberating. For those in this position, focussing on their acquired talents and skills and pinpointing a specialisation is a good place to start.