Radical change needed to tackle ‘unemployment trap’ leaving over a million over 50s out of work

A new report, published today, by the Centre for Ageing Better calls for a radical rethink to tackle chronic worklessness experienced by the over 50s, with data showing this age group experience an ‘unemployment trap’ – they are more likely to be out of work than most younger age groups, and once unemployed they struggle more than younger jobseekers to get back into employment.

Key points to note are:

  • Almost a third of 50-64 year olds in the UK are not in work – some 3.6 million people.
  • 50-64 year olds have an ‘economic inactivity’ rate of 27% – more than double that among 35-49 year olds (13%).
  • Around one million of these people left work involuntarily due to issues such as ill health, caring responsibilities or redundancy.
  • Once out of work, older jobseekers struggle to get back into the labour market. Some 38% of unemployed over 50s have been out of work for over a year, compared to 19% of 18-24 year olds.
  • Employment support available to this age group is currently not working. Only 16% of over 50s referred to the Government’s Work Programme are successfully supported into a job – worse results than for any other group, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or disability.

This report is based on research commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better and carried out by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the Learning and Work Institute. Based on six months’ research with those aged 50 and over in Greater Manchester, it shows the complex range of challenges people over 50 face in returning to work. The findings will feed into the work of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Ageing Hub, as part of the Centre for Ageing Better’s strategic partnership with the city-region.

Jenny Rouse, Associate Director at Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and lead researcher on the report, said:

“If we are to have effective public services for the benefit of everyone everywhere, we must ensure that what we offer reflects the needs of over 50s who are in insecure work or experiencing worklessness. Our research shows that we must listen and understand the experiences of this age group on a deeper level and recognise the unique challenges they face, but also the unique and valuable contributions they can make to their  community and Greater Manchester as a whole.”

Download the report

Read the press release

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