When the labour market needs them most: Over 50’s struggling for work

“Britain needs you”  was the message to over 50’s from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last month. Yet latest research from the Chartered Institute of Management highlights the struggles people in this age group are facing when trying to re-enter the workforce.

Over 50's struggling for work

New research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggests firms are much less open to hiring older workers than they are to bringing in younger people.

The CMI surveyed more than 1,000 managers working in UK businesses and public services. According to the survey, only 42% of managers would be ‘open’ to hiring workers aged between 50 and 64 to a large extent, compared to 74% of managers being open to employing those aged 18-34 to a large extent. The number dropped furthest for applicants in the over-65 age group. Just 18% of managers said they were ‘open to a large extent’ to hiring people in that category.

The Great Unretirement

“Britain needs you”. The message to over 50’s from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last month.

Although employment has increased and a record number of economically inactive have returned to the workforce, the current employment rate in the UK is still significantly lower than pre-pandemic. The UK employment rate was estimated to be 75.6%, which is 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous three-month period and 0.9 percentage points lower than the same period before the pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020).

The Chancellor is urging people to return to work as many retired early during the Covid19 pandemic. The UK saw a surge in the number of people classified as ‘economically inactive’. According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), it is believed that the Covid19 pandemic resulted in approximately 400,000 more people being classed as ‘economically inactive’ in comparison to before the virus hit. This was primarily seen in people aged 50 and over.

Mr. Hunt made a promise to anyone looking to get back to work, that the government would make it worth their while. In the recent Spring Budget, they have set out how they are planning to encourage people to re-enter the workforce.

However, some people who previously retired during the Covid19 pandemic, have been trying to return to work at least part-time due to the cost-of-living crisis – this return to the workforce has commonly been named ‘The Great Unretirement’.

Age discrimination

The Office for National Statistics recorded a record-high figure of people previously not seeking work who are now making the move back into the workforce. With approximately 48,000 people moving out of economic inactivity and into employment between the three months leading up to September and the three months leading to December.

Nicky Dalglish is a 63-year-old who returned to work 4 years ago, she described the challenge it was for her to return to work at 59, saying “most people have written you off”.

Are some employers complaining about severe labour shortages, while also admitting that they are hesitant to bring in older workers?

Age Discrimination has been illegal in the UK since 2006, with the law now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010.

Support for Older Workers is run by the UK Government and provides employment support for people over 50 as well as information for employers. This covers developing your cv, age discrimination, developing new skills, managing health and disability, menopause, reasonable adjustments, flexible working and retirement options.

Focus on ability, not age

In some cases, a lot of assumptions are made that it’s easier to hire younger people who have grown up with technology as they find it easier to adapt to new methods of working. This causes the assumption that workers aged 50+ are less adaptable or less productive than the younger members of the workforce.

Anne Franke, Chief Executive of the CMI said “unless those that are hiring revisit their attitudes, older workers will continue to be excluded, just when the labour market needs them the most”.

Recent internal research we conducted at T2M Resourcing showed that out of the placed candidates we surveyed, almost a third (31.9%) of candidates that were happy to disclose their age, were aged 50 or over.