New research released today has warned of the risk of a surge in long term unemployment among the over-50s, with experts calling for urgent action from government to ensure older workers are not left behind.
A new report from the Centre for Ageing Better and Learning and Work Institute shows that the number of older workers on unemployment related benefits has nearly doubled as a result of the pandemic – increasing from 304,000 in March to 588,000 in June.
There is a risk of a ‘second wave’ of job losses for older workers as the furlough scheme comes to an end in October. One in four older workers – 2.5 million in total – have been furloughed, and hundreds of thousands of these workers may be unable to return to their previous jobs as some sectors struggle to recover.
The report finds that older workers who lose their jobs are far more likely to slip into long-term worklessness. Just one in three (35%) over 50s who lose their job return to work quickly, compared to two in three (63%) workers aged 25 – 34. Over 50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to have been out of work for over a year than those aged 18 to 24.
Over 50s have been poorly served by previous employment support programmes. The Work Programme – which was introduced following the last recession – failed older claimants; just one in five (19%) adults in their late 50s found a lasting job, compared to two in five (38%) young people aged 18-24.
While the government’s immediate employment response to the crisis has focused on younger workers, the report calls for urgent action to prevent a long term unemployment crisis among the over 50s. It calls for: