Tuesday, June 19, 2012

United Kingdom: Report Urges Removing Barriers for 50 Plus Employment

The Policy Exchange has issued a report calling on the United Kingdom to confront the barriers to employment faced by those 50 and older and stating that a failure to provide support based on targeting the barriers to work of the most needy means that many will miss out on the support that they require. According to "Too Much to Lose: Understanding and supporting Britain’s older workers," written by Matthew Tinsley, "without reforms to address these issues, growth in the UK economy will be lower than it might otherwise be and, on average, the population of over-50s could see a fall in living standards."

While the report recognizes that significant progress has been made over the last two decades, with the older workforce becoming more educated, working in more skilled roles and less likely to be affected by health problems, those over-50s currently unemployed are much less likely than any other age group to find work in the next year. Research behind the report finds "that there is a significant scarring effect of unemployment on future wages for older workers and that this is larger than for other age group."

The report says that further regulation is unlikely to help, but that better back-to-work support is needed. Specifically, it recommends:
  1. As a part of the current consultation, the government should look into legislating for a system of protected conversations between employers and employees. This must allow conversations around both retirement and the opportunities for flexible working and provide a platform for employers to get an understanding of the plans of their older workers regarding when they plan to retire and discuss possible flexible working arrangements.
  2. Government pilots allowing more advisor flexibility for older workers across all Jobcentres should be extended where there has been success so far.
  3. The government should pilot a scheme where more skilled older workers can take a budget for the support that they receive and use it to find support in areas that suit their specific needs.
  4. For the potentially large number of older jobseekers whose experience is in sectors that currently lack good prospects there should be the condition to search and/or gain experience in other sectors as part of their mandatory job search activities.
  5. Through Jobcentre Plus there should be a greater push to allow volunteering and work experience on a voluntary basis to older jobseekers who JCP advisors believe can benefit the most from it.
  6. For the minority of older jobseekers that advisors believe are not making a serious attempt to look in different sectors or roles, a mandatory element should be introduced into the scheme. Such claimants would be given the option of undertaking either a Mandatory Work Activity
    , or engaging in the work experience scheme.
Source: Conservative Home "Matthew Tinsley: Helping older workers" (June 19, 2012)

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