Last updated: 30.06.17

Expanding your employment options: Learning opportunities for over 50s

There has been a big push in recent years to reduce unemployment in the over 50s, with big businesses and government programmes creating initiatives to encourage over 50s to get back into the workplace.

These initiatives have had great results with the ONS (Office of National Statistics highlighting that unemployment among the over 50s has dropped to 2.6% which is around the same level of unemployment as 35-49 year olds.

Online Training for the over 50's

Online training courses provide people of all ages with access to learning new skills and areas of knowledge, which, in turn, helps to expand their employment options.

Laws seek to protect us from discrimination of any type - whether this is based on age, gender or race - older job seekers are more likely to experience long-term unemployment than any other age group.

However, in today’s world, being over 50 means very little when you have the right skill set. And with new tools and technology easily at the ready, there’s no stopping the older workforce.

How can the Government help?

In 2015, the government launched an initiative to help older people find employment by offering them training. This decision came after it was revealed that 1.2 million people over 50 were unemployed but willing to work in the UK, and if they all found jobs, they would collectively contribute an additional £50 billion to the UK economy (BBC News).

Training included improving interviewing skills, updating CVs, insight to the internet and social media, and career reviews, among other areas. The government also appointed Job Centre staff in seven areas of the country, to ensure SME’s are aware of the benefits of hiring older employees.

The Department of work and pensions has been pushing companies to open up apprenticeships’ schemes to the over 50s. One big name to fully embrace this programme this is Barclays Bank, who have opened their apprenticeships to the over 50s with great success.

The Department of Work and Pensions also issued a report highlighting that mature workers are more likely to with a company for a much longer time period when compared to millennials, this is a very desired trait as it means employers don’t lose large amounts of money during the recruitment process.

This idea of apprenticeships isn’t just for hiring new staff it’s also being used to re-train current staff who might need to develop new skills and want to continue working. Some companies say they might expect re-trained workers to worker at the company for an extra 15 years.

Top Tips for Job hunting for the over 50’s

These are our top tips to help you gain employment or change your career.

  • Update your CV –Ensure your CV is up to date and contains only relevant experience for the job you are applying for. A cluttered CV can give you a big disadvantage before employers have even met you. Keep your job history short and specific, this will ensure you have key talking points when it come to the interview stage.
  • Know your stuff – Experience is extremely important when applying for a new job. However, with technology advancing so quickly make sure you can apply your skills to the modern work environment. Online training can support you in this, offering cost effective training in a massive range of areas.

Want to increase your skills with online training? Check out the Virtual College course catalogue and get award winning training and learn in your own time at your own pace.

  • Prepare for Interviews - It might be tempting to brush off interview preparation thinking “I’ve done it all before”, however if it’s been years since your last interview be sure to brush up on your technique. Make sure you have your key talking points and think back to important projects you’ve been part of, have friends or family give you mock interviews and use the internet for a massive range of resources and advice for your interview.
  • Use your network and contacts - Throughout your career you will have developed a strong network of former colleagues, employers and industry contacts. Use theses to your advantage when hunting for a new job. You can use sites like Facebook and Linkedin to reconnect with those you haven’t spoken to in a while. This can help you build confidence and can be a way to market yourself to potential new employers and might get yourself a good reference in the process.

Experience and wisdom

While younger workers can have more energy and be more adaptable, mature workers can bring experience, reliability and commitment to the workplace. Today, some recruiters only offer interviews to those that have 10 to 30 years’ occupational experience.

For over 50s who want to work flexibly, recruiters like TimeWise offer part-time and job share opportunities that include home-working, maternity cover and interim roles. Trading Times focuses more on those who want flexible hours, where candidates are matched with the right skills and experience.

Setting up your own business

It’s never too late to consider setting up your own business. There is endless information online that offers advice in this area. The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprises (PRIME) is also a great source of advice and support for older people who want to set up a business, as it offers free training courses, mentoring support, online resources and networking events across the UK.

Set-up by HRH The Prince of Wales, the initiative has helped more than 25,000 over 50s who are unemployed or facing redundancy.


Many mature workers believe that when they reach 50, it’s too late to start learning about new subjects or trying to break into new industries. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. E-learning and online training courses, allow anyone with access to a computer to complete courses and gain qualifications that could help in their job search.

At Virtual College, we have over 300 courses to help learners achieve their learning goals. Whether that's learning a new skill or complying with current legislation, our online training can help.

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