Many over 50s who took early retirement after the pandemic are now keen to get back to work. They need to top up their incomes as the cost-of-living crisis bites, but also face a number of barriers.
Ageism in the workplace is one challenge, while skills can quickly go rusty and many lack confidence or don’t know where to begin.
The Government is keen to coax the over 50s back into the workplace to help fill vacancies, boost the economy and ease pressure on the state.
It now offers Mid-Life MOTs, personal coaching to help workers in their 40s and 50s get back to work, climb the career ladder and boost their earning power. This is available through JobCentres or online at the Open University.
Six in 10 who left their jobs since the start of the pandemic would consider returning, government research shows, but it can prove tricky in practice, said Darren Bance, chief operating officer at tech and digital training provider QA.
“Even after just a year or two out of work, existing skills can quickly feel outdated while learning new ones can feel daunting, especially as the digital world changes so quickly.”
Bance said the over-50s are just as capable of picking up new skills as everyone else, regardless of their prior experience.
“Thousands of roles need digital skills, whether you’re 18 or 60. We’re also seeing increasing investment in the over-50s from the largest employers in the country as they look to fill vacancies.”
He said there is a huge range of free courses that can help you learn new skill or brush up old ones.
QA’s Teach the Nation to Code initiative offers free one-day workshops for anyone interested in giving digital skills a try, either for absolute beginners or those wanting a refresh.
Bance also suggested checking out the Government’s Digital Skills Bootcamps, which are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks designed to build up sector-specific skills and offer a fast-track to a job interview.
“They cover all sorts of subjects, including software testing and data analysis, cost nothing to attend, fit around your life and are perfect for absolute beginners.”
QA’s own tech and digital bootcamps aimed at the over-50s are now recruiting for courses in April, May and June across data analytics and software development and testing, with access to employers afterwards.
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Bance said earnings can be higher than people think, as the average starting salary for a software developer is £30,000, rising to as much as £50,000 after completion. “Apprenticeships aren’t just for teenagers,” he said.
It may be time to brush up on other skills, too, said Lisa Davies, chief sales officer at Acacia Training, which delivers government-led Multiply scheme help improve numeracy skills. “Whether it’s digital, business, adult social care or children and young people, there can be a course that offers training and qualifications to suit.”
Choosing the right length of course is vital. “Some can take a year, but others may take just a day or even half a day. You have to decide how much time and money you can afford to invest.”
There is plenty of help online. The government-backed National Careers Service helps you search for free courses to get the skills employers need.
Website Learnisa.com lets you search tens of thousands of potential courses, while FutureLearn.com may also prove useful.
Age UK offers training courses for older people. There is plenty more help out there.