Quarter of a million over-50s ‘will never work again’ is the stark headline in the Money section of today’s Sunday Telegraph.
One in four (2.5million) workers aged 50 and above have been furloughed and, of those, it is predicted that 377,000 could lose their jobs. This is based on forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility that 15% of workers on furlough will become unemployed when the scheme ends.
The problem older workers then have is that it can be harder for them to get another job because of ageism and that Government job schemes are usually skewed in favour of the young.
The Centre for Ageing Better, a charity, and the Learning and Work Institute, a research centre, found that older staff were far less likely to return to work after a redundancy. Just a third of over 50s return to work after losing their job, compared with more than half (54%) of 35-49 year-olds. These numbers mean that around 250,000 older employees may never return to work.
Imagine how that would make you feel and the impact this would have on the rest of your life. As a 60 year-old I’ve had all of my working life including crucially the last 10 years to prepare for retirement.
It’s that last decade that’s given me the chance to sort out my pension provision and boost my savings while I’ve been earning. It’s also given me the mindset to prepare myself mentally for this all-important life transition.
If I’d have lost my job at 50 – and not been able to get another one – then my circumstances would have been so much different to now. Instead of dreams of retirement travel, taking up new hobbies, seeing more of friends and family I’d be scraping out a living, still trying to pay off a mortgage and all the other bills that come with day-to-day life.
I’d have 17 years to wait before my state pension kicks in, that’s more than half of the entire working life of some professions.
Anna Dixon, of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Without action, we could see many in their 50s and 60s falling out of the workforce years before the state pension age.”
Andy Briggs, who is apparently the Government’s older workers tsar – a role I didn’t know existed – said: “It’s up to employers to clamp down on unconscious bias. If an older person reveals their age on a CV, they are much less likely to get the role.” This is something I’ve had to deal when putting together my own CV.
The research suggests that women, possibly because of the kind of jobs they do, are likely to be hardest hit. Nearly 400,000 women aged between 50 and 64 have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began, according to analysis of ONS data by the excellent over 50s website Rest Less.
Rest Less chief executive Stuart Lewis, said: “In the last recession, women could retire at 60. Today it is 66. Losing their job will force them into an early retirement many cannot afford.”
The pandemic has had many appalling consequences and as we shift towards consideration of the economic impact much of the talk is about supporting the young.
I’ve got no problem with that, it’s the right thing to do. It’s also right to create jobs schemes for the over 50s and it’s about time employers appreciated the skills and experience that older people can bring.