Government’s careers strategy neglects older workers

The government’s careers strategy fails to adequately address the support needed for older workers wanting to learn new skills, according to UK professional people development body CIPD.

Although plans to improve the quality of careers information, advice and guidance were applauded, some industry figures believe the other end of the demographic is being neglected. 

The long-awaited scheme, launched by skills minister Anne Milton earlier this week set out four key priorities:

  • Ensuring every school/college has a dedicated careers leader
  • Providing work experience opportunities
  • Offering tailored support to students
  • Utilising appropriate sources for jobs and careers information.

There will also be 20 careers hubs created to “link schools and colleges with local universities and employers to help broaden pupils’ horizons” in the areas of the country most in need.

But Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said there is a yawning gap in its what it delivers.

“The area where there is less investment and action is on support for people needing to upskill or re-skill as they get older,” he said. 

“Beyond plans for a new, improved National Careers Service website ‘for all citizens’ there is little in the strategy to suggest that there will be sufficient support for older workers, who increasingly need high-quality careers advice and opportunities to learn new skills. 

“This is especially vital in the face of new technology and longer working lives, particularly against a backdrop of falling public investment in adult skills and life-long learning.”

Peter Knight, managing director of Forties People, which specialises in recruiting more mature candidates, said he endorses the view of the CIPD but believes the issues weighing on mature market employment have existed for decades.

“There’s nothing new in the government’s strategy,” he told Recruiter. “There is a big hole. Business has yet to understand the impact the shortfall of pensions will have. As retirement age is extended and pension pots fall short, people have to work longer into their lives.

“One of the biggest problems is getting people to understand that there will be two to three generations of people working in the same department.”

Older people, he says, are not a threat. They have so much to offer and should be considered for jobs because of the wealth of experience they bring to a role and recruiters have a role to play in this shift in thought.

“Some employers see older workers as a threat because of their experience, and won’t take them on. It’s incumbent on recruiters, those people who are responsible for hiring people, to convince their bosses of the benefits of employing mature and experienced staff,” he says. 

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