Stephen Lambert is a Newcastle City Councillor and a community governor with Newcastle City Learn

Forgotten Generation: Could Devolution Help The North East’s Over-50s? 

ALTHOUGH unemployment remains static in the North East with more people in full-time and part-time jobs, one group that’s been overlooked is the over-50s

True, most men and women in this age cohort are in paid work, with a significant minority of middle-class public and private sector professionals having opted for the four-day week. Some are ‘WOOPies’ (well-off old age pensioners) who have retired early on ‘good’ occupational pensioners with mortgages paid off.

Yet, the stark reality is that thousands remain ‘economically inactive’ and excluded from the labour market, while more than one million people aged 50 to 64 in England say they would be delighted to take a job if offered one.

According to a recent report by the Centre for Better Ageing a third of 50-64-year-olds in the North East are caught in an “unemployment trap”.

In Newcastle, about 1,000 people in this age group claim jobseeker’s allowance and thousands more have been “parked” on disability benefits. These are the “hidden unemployed” - a growing minority of the over-50s who have been made redundant and can’t find a way back into work.

165,200 are economically inactive in our region – the highest rate for this age group in England. As the researcher Jemma Mouland notes: “Once they have lost their job the over-50s struggle much more than any other age group to get back into work.”

Pre-retirement worklessness is a class related thing and affects both men and women. Most are former working-class, blue-collar/blouse workers living in the most de-industrialised neighbourhoods across the region.

Thousands are the victims of globalisation and automation which has caused long-term unemployment leaving them consigned to the economic scrapheap.

They are disconnected from job opportunities, even though some live near major employment, development sites and retail parks. They don’t see them, think they are not for them and lack the right skills.

Large numbers of older people live in communities based on the north bank of the Tyne and in former coal mining towns and villages in south east Northumberland which have high rates of poverty, unemployment, low skill sets or mental health and few qualifications.

Most 55-year olds left school at 16. They’re less likely to be equipped to compete in a digital, fast paced job market which favours IT-savvy young adults in their mid-twenties. Competition for unskilled jobs is fierce. In the North of the Tyne sub-region 170 applicants chasing two jobs is not uncommon.

Research done by Anna Round of IPPR North reveals that women over 50 are 25 times less likely to be offered a job interview than their peers in their late 20s. Overall, the younger candidates were four times more likely to be given an interview. Younger men were three times more likely to get an interview than their older peers over 50 while among women the gap was five times.

Age-based discrimination is rife across the region. The Carnegie Third Age Programme, which champion older people, points out that campaigns against ageism are having some impact.

Although some companies use subtle methods of employee recruitment for the under-45s, progressive employers have policies in place that fly in the face of ageism.

High street retailers like B&Q and M&S adopted schemes 25 years ago to help applicants over 50 These stores have a proportion of older workers. They’re less likely to take time off and are just as productive as younger employees.

Although local town halls like Newcastle and North Tyneside are one year into a Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme pre-Brexit funded by the EU to narrow the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged, more needs to be done by central government to address the needs of this post-50 cohort.

Government needs to re-prioritise adult skills and education to improve the life-chances of the ‘life behinds’ and left-outs. Adult education has been starved of resources, with a 45% drop in mature students returning to night classes.

According to a recent paper, ‘The Post-18 Review of Education and Funding: A review of a lifetime’, jointly published by the Campaign for Learning and NCFE (December 2018) less than 1% of the Government’s £20bn post-18 education budget is allocated to community and adult education

Opportunities for adults over 50 to update their skills have been cut to the bone. Even employment support by job centres is failing older people.

Only 1 in 6 over 50s were successful in getting into a job through the Government’s Work Programme. Yet, these are things that could help the older worker to get back onto the jobs ladder.

It’s premature to write these people off these people. Many have had decades of valuable work and life experience. Some possess useful transferable skills. But because of lack of opportunity and employer prejudice they don’t stand a chance in a 21st century competitive market.

The new North of Tyne Combined Authority with a £600m budget is in a prime position to tackle this issue. The three local councils (Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland) alongside Post-18 educational providers (with an extra £23m Adult Education budget), to their credit, are signed up to address the several barriers people aged over-50 face in returning to work.

Co-ordinated efforts by employment support and training providers, health services, the benefits system and government agencies must be targeted at individuals, so they are able to get the full range of support they need in a timely way.

Employers need to eradicate perceived age bias by adopting a positive approach to recruiting older workers and offering flexible job opportunities. And above all the Government must refresh its Industrial Strategy so that it benefits older people in the North East of England.

If we’re serious about creating an inclusive regional economy with an age diverse workplace in a post-Brexit era devolved government, business, civic and educational leaders need to re-emphasise the value of older workers.

Stephen Lambert is a Newcastle City Councillor and a community governor with Newcastle City Learn. He writes in a personal capacity

Copyright © 2018 FE News

Stephen Lambert Newsroom Strap

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page