Self employment is rising among the over 50s. workingwise.co.uk looks at why this is the case.
People aged over 50 now account for almost half the UK’s self-employed, according to research from Rest Less. Its report found that there are now 2.3 million self-employed over-50s; an increase of 57 per cent in a decade. It’s thought that this is partly because older workers find it more difficult to find traditional employment – but other experts suggest that people in their 50s and 60s are actively seeking new opportunities and the freedom that self employment provides.
Historically, it has always been more challenging for older workers in the UK to find jobs. The traditional view is that people over 50 have one eye on retirement and will be less productive than their younger colleagues.
But research has shown that the most diverse companies are the highest performing. As a result, organisations are increasingly welcoming people from a range of backgrounds and experience, which means career choices over 50 are better than ever before.
As the retirement age climbs ever higher, many 50 year olds still have 15-20 more years of work ahead of them. There is significant growth in the number of older people working. Among those aged over 65, employment is up by nearly 50,000 to 1.33 million.
Faced with this prospect, lots of us start seeking new opportunities and careers to give us fresh challenge in our work.
At 50 some of us experience a drop in pressure in our home lives – children are older and there may be less demand on our finances.
Others, meanwhile, have caring responsibilities for parents or partners. So, at 50 we often need a different working style – whether this is a reduction in hours or a career change.
Today there are great opportunities for retraining over 50, particularly through apprenticeships, and the government is actively encouraging older generations into teacher training.
But many of the baby boomers today choose to set up their own businesses – often to focus on their passions and expertise. There are a vast range of businesses run by the over 50s – including consulting, creative work or new business ideas. At a time in life when the kids have moved out and the mortgage is perhaps a little smaller, many are finding that they have the luxury of choice for the first time.
While self-employment can be a great option for many people in the later part of their working lives, it’s important to remember that self-employed people risk missing out on some of the key benefits of working for an employer, such as employer pension contributions, support for a health condition or carers leave.
Official statistics show that 45% of self-employed people aged 35 to 54 have no private pension wealth. None of us know how long we might live or the care we might need in the future, so it’s very important to think ahead and seek advice for sound financial planning.