Project launched to support older workers facing redundancy

West Midlands workers facing job losses due to pandemic benefit from pilot project.

A new pilot project to support older workers at risk of redundancy in the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis will start work in the West Midlands after securing funding from Barclays.

With many workers facing redundancy in the wake of lockdown, there are fears that older workers could be hit hard by job losses and struggle to find re-employment. Recent research by the Centre for Ageing Better and the Learning and Work Institute warned of a long-term unemployment crisis for older workers, with the number of over-50s seeking unemployment related benefits doubling during the lockdown.

The project, which is being carried out by the Centre for Ageing Better, will test different ways to support over 50s who are facing redundancy or who have recently been made redundant. It will focus on helping those people to retrain in order to continue working for longer.

Currently, access to redundancy support varies widely depending on the scale of the redundancy and the willingness or ability of the employer to buy in support. Inequalities are rife, with those most in need of training often not receiving it. This includes low and medium skilled workers, who often face the greatest risk of job loss.

For those who do have access to skills and training services, the Centre for Ageing Better’s research has highlighted the fact that mainstream offers are often not well suited to older workers’ needs. There is also limited information on the effectiveness of these services for older workers.

Jagdeep Soor, Senior Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “As the Government’s furlough and job retention scheme closes, we will see many more redundancies impacting older workers disproportionately. This will make it even more critical that we support those older workers being made redundant or at risk of redundancy to find alternative work and not get left behind in the plans to drive the economy.

“Our new project will help us to better understand what these workers need, and how we can best support them to stay in work for longer. We’ll be working directly with those who have recently been made redundant or are facing redundancy to design an approach that meets their needs and the needs of the local economy.”