Government announces support package for older workers

The Government has announced the extension of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, including a package of support for older workers.

 

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The Government has announced a £500m extension of the Government’s Plan for Jobs scheme, including targeted help for older workers who have lost their job in the pandemic.

The package includes help with career progression for those workers on Universal Credit. From April 2022, the Government says more people who are in work on Universal Credit will be able to access work coach support, which will focus on career progression advice and he said Job Centre Plus specialists will work with local employers to identify local opportunities for people to progress in work.

The Government says there will be a new package of support for older workers on later life planning, “helping them make informed choices and supporting them to plan their career and remain in work”. Older job seekers on Universal Credit will have access to more intensive, tailored support, although this was not mentioned in Rishi Sunak’s speech to conference on Monday.

The Government says it is also prioritising support for those coming off furlough and on Universal Credit through the Job Finding Support (JFS) scheme. This scheme provides online, tailored, one-to-one support for people unemployed for less than 3 months, including support with CVs and mock interviews.

In addition, the Government is extending the Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme (JETS) to September 2022; this scheme provides tailored support for people who have been unemployed for over three months.

The extra funding will also go towards schemes for younger workers, such as Kickstart, and the Government is  extending its £3,000 payment for every apprentice a business hires up until 31 January 2022.

There have been concerns that older workers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic or who have been on furlough may struggle to find new jobs due in large part to ageism within the recruitment process.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, said: “Statistics have also shown that older employees were more likely to be on furlough towards the end of the scheme. It is possible that those who are made redundant therefore may be older and have possibly not applied for a job for a long time. Support with job seeking skills, CV writing and interview technique are all going to be invaluable and will hopefully be included in the 1-1 support.

“These schemes target the individual. The benefit to the workplace is going to be felt in getting or growing the skills and expertise of a new employee, and the financial incentive for the apprenticeship of course will help. The complexity of navigating this support, and making sure everything is correctly in place, will be an additional burden to employers who may not have previously accessed schemes of this nature.”

According to Office for National Statistics figures just published, 26 per cent of employees were on furlough at some point between March 2020 and June 2021, with 24% spending more than six months on the scheme. Those who were furloughed for more than three months were less likely to be employed by August 2021 compared to those who were furloughed for a shorter time.

Younger and older workers over 65 were the most likely age group to be furloughed. The report also found single parents and part-time workers were more likely to be on the scheme.

Joanne Frew, head of employment at DWF, said the extra money announced by the Government was “unsurprising” with fears about the end of the furlough scheme representing “a cliff edge”.  However, she said the latest job figures showed a “relatively robust labour market”. She added: “If the latest targeted government support can mitigate the impact of the end of furlough, the labour market on the whole can continue to recover and in turn help with the UK’s economic recovery.  The pledge marks a clear step on the road to recovery. However, the targeted support may prove to be too little, too late for some of the hardest hit sectors such as the travel industry.  The details will be confirmed at the Spending Review, which will take place later this month.”



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