DIGEST: Just 16% of out of work over 50s are supported into a job by the Work Programme, a report has found, sparking calls for a “radical rethink” of tackling worklessness in middle age.
The figure, the worst of any group looked at in the study by the Centre for Ageing Better, is close to half the national average of 29% and significantly below that for lone parents, where almost 40% were supported back to work.
Produced as part of a partnership between the centre and the Greater Manchester CA, the report highlights government figures showing a third of people aged 50 to 64 in the UK are out of work, with 38% of this group out of work for more than a year compared to 19% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
Research in five areas of the city region found that over 50s faced a range of challenges in returning to work, including poor health and caring responsibilities, as well as recruitment processes that favour younger candidates and “internalised ageism” .
The centre warns that the impending rise of the state pension age means that the problem will get dramatically worse without urgent action.
It is calling on government to increase flexibilities in the benefits system and for calls for councils to integrate employment, skills and health support offered to older job seekers.
Jean Stretton (Lab), Greater Manchester CA’s lead for equality, fairness and inclusion, said: “We must make the most of the talent and expertise of older workers if we are to tackle poverty in later life and keep our economy growing. In Greater Manchester we’re exploring how we can make employment more age-friendly in order to help older people stay in work for as long as they want or need.”