End of furlough going to be tough for older workers

In a major report released today the Institute for Fiscal Studies state that the end of furlough will be tough for older workers – and there needs to be greater attention paid to older workers as much as being given now to young workers. (End of furlough likely to be particularly tough for older workers – Institute For Fiscal Studies – IFS). Employees over the age of 65 were 40% more likely to be furloughed in late April than those in their 40s . As the furlough scheme comes to an end there will be much larger numbers of older jobseekers in the labour market , many of whom will face tough challenges in finding a job.

The research shows that pre covid older workers were less likely to return to work after spells of unemployment than younger workers. Among all those unemployed in their late 50s, less than one in three returned to work over the course of a year, compared with about half of those unemployed in their mid-30s. Among older workers the long-term unemployed are much less likely to re-enter work than those who have recently become unemployed. Those with lower levels of education and women are at risk here in being less likely to get jobs after becoming unemployed. Finding new work is tricky for some older workers  – most older workers do not have much recent experience of searching for work: over two-thirds of 55-year-old workers have been with their employer for more than five years. Older workers are also less likely than younger workers to change occupation  – only 3% of workers aged 50–69 typically change occupation over the course of a year, compared with around half the rate of workers in their mid-30s. The research also highlights the importance of flexibility in the labour market such as part time working among older workers, and flexibility in hours of work. 

The report authors state, “It will therefore be important for the government to appropriately support older jobseekers back into the labour market going forwards.”

In London we are seeing a “scarring” in the labour market of older workers at risk of unemployment and then finding it difficult to get the right job.  The risk is that older workers get forgotten and lose out.  Wise Age is campaigning through the London Recovery Board and with London Boroughs for older workers in London to receive the necessary employment support services and for employers to recognise the support older workers may need career wise and the value of employing older workers.

Tim Whitaker, Trustee of  Wise Age