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Why Are People Aged 50+ Leaving Employment?

Clue: it’s not always through choice.  We already know that older workers were more likely to be furloughed than their younger colleagues, and today the Office of National Statistics has published their latest data on why workers aged 50+ are leaving employment.

  • The majority (77%) of adults aged 50 to 59 years said they left their previous job sooner than expected;
  • Compared with those aged 60 years and over, adults in their 50s were less likely to leave work for retirement (28%, compared with 56%), and more likely to give stress or mental health (19%, compared with 5%) or a change in lifestyle (14%, compared with 7%) as reasons for leaving work;
  • Those in their 50s were more likely to consider returning to work (58%) than those aged 60 years and over (31%).

ONS research participants described the barriers to finding work. There were economically inactive or unemployed participants who lost or left their job prior to the pandemic and who were currently searching for a job, but had not returned to work after the pandemic because:

  • there was “not much choice” and they had been unable to find a job they wanted;
  • they had been rejected for jobs – they felt this was because companies were less willing to employ older staff and only wanted to employ younger people with IT skills since the pandemic;
  • they felt it was unnecessary to “slog myself in a job I don’t want”, especially when they were in a comfortable financial position on account of their partner’s salary;
  • of their health condition.

Participants also indicated that online applications, age discrimination, and a lack of available help for carers may be barriers to finding work.  Unemployed participants said they could be helped to return to work if there was support in filling out online application forms and less age discrimination by employers.

Older applicants are being told that they are over-qualified, under-qualified, can’t be retrained, don’t have enough transferable skills, the list goes on. And those from lower socio-economic groups struggle against prejudice even more so.

We’ve previously reported on job adverts which are not inclusive plus how skills shortages could be solved by genuinely inclusive recruitment practices.

Ageism among UK employers is without doubt on the increase and yet we have shortages of experienced people in so many key sectors. At one third of the workforce, older people are a huge untapped talent resource willing to work and work hard but they aren’t being given a chance. We are all getting older, and one day we are likely to be that person who is not being given a chance. So come on, let’s open our minds and see beyond our biases to the real person.


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