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A social enterprise is running a free, eight-week programme for unemployed Londoners who are over 50 and want to start a business.
A free new online course for older workers who are unemployed and want to start a business is launching in London next month.
Startup School for Seniors is run by Advantages of Age. The organisation was created in March 2016, originally as a lifestyle website to address ageist narratives, but in 2017 it achieved social enterprise status for its three-pronged approach to improving the well-being of older people which focuses on social, publishing and business.
Co-founder Suzanne Noble and business coach Mark Elliott will deliver the new course. Suzanne, who describes herself as a serial entrepreneur, has been delivering courses to over 50s for the past three years and last year Advantages of Age ran a six-month Business Academy programme which addressed some of the challenges for older workers, such as flexible working and ageism in the workplace.
After that, she decided to look for funding to explore online support. Covid-19 has helped funders become more aware of the issues around digital delivery and Advantages of Age won funding to develop an online course on starting a business from the London Community Response Fund. They have spent the last few months building the content for the course, making videos and getting experts on board.
The course, which is free, but only available to Londoners due to the funding, starts from 5th October and will run for eight weeks. It will consist of three to four videos a week on issues ranging from where do the best ideas come from, how to find your first customer, how to market your business and where to get funding to what if it doesn’t work. In addition to the videos there will be a weekly Zoom meeting with participants to share how they are getting on. Participants can also share status updates on the website to show how they are hitting the KPIs they have set for themselves and how they are feeling about their business.
Suzanne says she anticipates increased demand for support for older workers in business due to Covid-19. She cites statistics showing over a third of over 50s may never be in full-time employment again as a result of redundancies and forced early retirement in the wake of the pandemic. “It’s pretty horrifying,” she says and calls the lack of support targeted at them “appalling”. She says it can take over 50s several months after losing their job to consider self employment due to fears about job security and other worries about running their own business. They may fall into depression, she says, after being rejected multiple times for jobs, in part due to ageism. They may start questioning their own abilities. She adds that traditional start-up courses often fail to recognise the concerns of older workers when it comes to starting a business and says a gentler approach is needed.
Asked if Advantages of Age would like to spread the programme outside London, Suzanne says there is likely to be a big demand. She is keen to collaborate with other organisations to get the right support to over 50s.
*To sign up for the course, click here.