Last updated: 05.01.15

Unemployed over-50s offered skills training

What is a Skills Initiative?

As part of an initiative to boost employment for older people in the UK, the government launched a plan to offer job skills training to those aged over 50 in December 2014.

At the time, there were an estimated 1.2 million people aged over 50 in Britain who were unemployed but willing to work. If they were all able to find jobs, they would collectively contribute an additional £50 billion to the UK economy, BBC News reported.

Why was job training for older workers needed?

During the previous 12 months, long-term unemployment stemming from the after effects of the financial crash of the late 2000s among the wider population had fallen by 16 per cent, while joblessness among over-50s decreased by 3.5 per cent.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, then-employment minister Esther McVey said: "The plight of unemployed older workers has gone under the radar for too long.

"There's something fundamentally wrong with so many skilled and experienced people finding themselves locked out of the workplace simply because of their age."

Where e-learning fits into the picture

The government's trial included training on a range of work skills, such as CV and interview skills, and best practice when using the internet and social media. Over-50s were also offered career reviews with a professional to identify their existing skills and where they might benefit from further learning.

At Virtual College, we offer off-the-shelf e-learning courses in these areas, enabling people to retrain at 50 or older at a time and place that suits them. By allowing over-50s to learn at their own pace, they are more likely to be engaged with training programmes designed to improve their employability skills.

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.

Did the government's efforts work?

It is now just over three years since the UK government stepped up its efforts to provide job training for older workers, and employment levels among over-50s have increased during that time.

Labour market data published by the Office for National Statistics in November 2017 showed that the number of over-50s in employment in the UK had increased by 1.7 million since 2010, to reach a total of 9.9 million.

More older workers are also choosing to become self-employed or start their own companies, with Hitachi Capital UK and the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimating that ten million people will be employed in ventures set up by over-50s by 2025.

E-learning courses providing a refresher on work skills will continue to help older people develop their employability, whether they are looking to move forward with an organisation or become their own boss.

Explore the full range of job skills courses on offer from Virtual College here.

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