People in their 50s are more likely than any other age group to be unemployed and find it harder to get a new job than younger workers, according to a new study from the Centre for Ageing Better.
The organisation claims that almost a third of those aged between 50 and 64 are not in work. Of these, 27% are considered to be economically inactive, which means they are not involved in the labour market in any way. This is more than double the number of people aged between 35 and 49 (13%) that are categorised in this way.
Estimates also suggest that around one million of the 3.6 million people aged between 50 and 64 that are not in work, came out of the job market for reasons that were outside their control, such as redundancy, their own ill health or the need to care for a partner or relative.
Those that are able to work are also finding it more difficult to find new jobs than their younger rivals. The report says that 38% of unemployed over-50s have been out of work for over a year, compared to 19% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
Making matters worse, the report claims that existing support is failing this demographic. Of those referred to the government’s Work Programme, the over 50s have the lowest success rate, with only 16% finding work through the help of the scheme.
Drastic action needed to support older workers
As the state pension age rises and more people are needing to work for longer, the Centre for Better Ageing says drastic action is needed from the government to support older workers.
Jemma Mouland, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, says: “Given that we are all working for longer and our workforce is ageing, we need urgent action to break this vicious circle.
“Our research finds that changes are needed at every level. It is not a problem that national government or employment and skills services alone can fix. Poor health and caring responsibilities are some of the most common barriers experienced by older workers, so it is important that health and benefits systems are more joined up and focused on helping those over 50 stay in work, or get back into employment. Employers too need to value their older workers more, offer them greater support and flexibility and stamp out ageist employment practices.”
Don’t rely on building pensions in your 50s and 60s
The research also provides a stark warning to those in younger age groups who may be relying on using their earnings in their 50s and 60s to pump up their pension.
Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association says: “The Ageing Better report highlights the fact that we need to build understanding among other age groups that they cannot necessarily rely on working until state pension age – or beyond – to build their pension pots.
“Many people see their 50s and 60s as a time to focus on building up their retirement saving; being unable to work due to poor health, caring responsibilities or lack of employment opportunities will hit their retirement plans hard.”