New opportunities for workers over 50

Blog by Marzena Reszka

People in the UK are living longer than ever before – a major achievement of modern science and healthcare. Older people make up a growing proportion of the population, and so make an increasing contribution to society.

However, the UK is not making the most of the opportunities afforded by an ageing population. Too many people are forced out of work in later life by poor health or unwelcoming attitudes in the workplace. Too few people access the training they need to adapt to a changing labour market. Too many families face the choice between working and providing care for a loved one. Too few homes meet the needs of older people.

At Staffordshire University we have a project to support over 50s who want some enterprise and skills training. This will help develop both the confidence, mind-set and skills in this area. It is worth remembering that people in their 40s and 50s are the most likely to start up a business.

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As the population ages, so will the UK workforce. The productivity and economic success of the UK is increasingly tied to that of older workers. Thus, learning and training  becomes of even greater importance as the population ages.

The proportion of the working age population aged between 50 and the state pension age (SPA) will increase to 35% in 2050 – an increase of approximately 8 million people. Encouraging older people to remain in work will help society to support growing numbers of dependents, while providing individuals with the financial and mental resources needed for longer periods of retirement.

Population ageing and increased life expectancy changed traditional thinking about learning. Longer working lives and other changes to the labour market means workers need to be more adaptable than they were before. More broadly, evidence shows that life-long participation in learning can improve people’s health, cognition, wellbeing and resilience. The need to reduce the level of dependency in society means that learning, and any other tool for extending the period of time that people can live independently, is increasingly important.

We therefore, need employers support a multigenerational workforce maximising the opportunities for older workers, and secondly we need to support older workers to take a new direction or for those unemployed return to working. This is where self-employment can offer a more flexible form of working, that may allow older people to stay in work for longer.

Moreover, the age profile of self-employed people they tend to be older than employees are, with 43% of those recorded as self-employed are over the aged 50 compared to 27%, which are employees. Age UK says that older workers are more likely to have a higher chance of success with over 70 per cent of these businesses lasting over five years compared to only 28 per cent set up by younger entrepreneurs.

Here is a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you have a hobby or interest in an area you could turn into a business? Do you want a better work-life balance? Are you unemployed, facing redundancy or looking for a change? Are you wondering how to set up a community interest company?

The training will look at how to come up with a business idea in the first place. It will explore if it could be viable. In addition, once you know what you want to do we then guide you through the process of how to set it up. We can help you to identify who your customers will be and how to promote your product to them.

The project is funded by the EU and includes partners from trade unions in Italy, and business organisations in Spain, Belgium and Portugal all working together to deliver a good training package and to help boost life-long learning and economic recovery.

The training is free and if you are interested please contact  Hazel Squire h.squire@staffs.ac.uk  01782 294985 or Jon Fairburn jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk 01782 294094 at Staffordshire University.

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Funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and EU flag logo

 

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