Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey was published for National Older Workers Week and...read more
Isaac took part in our recent survey about the cost of living crisis. He wants to find more stable employment but he says recruitment processes aren’t well suited to the over-50s.
The cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the Covid pandemic are having a huge impact on older workers, Workingwise.co.uk’s latest annual survey has shown. In our survey, published late last year, 30% of older workers said they no longer had enough income to cover basic living costs. Almost a quarter (24%) had also been affected by NHS backlogs, which in many cases affected their ability to work.
Here is Isaac’s story – he is one of many older workers affected by the cost-of-living crisis, NHS delays, and recruitment processes that don’t suit workers over 50.
“The [price] increases that I’m facing around everything – food, rent, energy – are extremely, extremely anxiety-provoking,” says Isaac, 58, who runs a consultancy and lives in London.
Isaac’s consultancy work has slowed down a lot since the Covid pandemic, as many investors have remained cautious. Isaac has also been suffering from depression and anxiety in recent months, which affects how much work he can do – especially as he had to wait for six months for NHS therapy.
“Like everyone, I’m trying to limit my use of energy. I’m buying lower-quality food products, which are cheaper, and I’m just trying to drum up more work,” Isaac says. His energy bills, food bills, and rent have all gone up. He has a young son who lives with him during part of the week, and he prioritises using the heating on those days.
“The price increases that I’m facing around everything – food, rent, energy – are extremely, extremely anxiety-provoking,”
Isaac started looking for staff roles last autumn, as he’s been finding self-employment too erratic. But he’s finding that application processes are tailored towards people aged under 40, and he feels unsure about his chances. In our survey, over a third (37%) of older workers who found it challenging to find a new job said that age played a part.
“It’s nothing explicit…but the whole application process assumes a ‘regular’ career trajectory, which may well apply to someone between 20 and 40. But life gets more complex after that,” Isaac says. For example, older workers might take career breaks to care for ageing parents, unwell partners, or to manage their own health issues.
“For umpteen reasons, there’s all kinds of irregularities, career breaks, interruptions – and there’s no way of conveying that that’s not a sign of unreliability,” Isaac says. “Life just gets a whole lot more complicated. And the standard two-sided CV, which talks about regular employment and doesn’t enable you to nuance anything, is hopelessly unfit for purpose.”
Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey of over 2,000 older workers was sponsored by Santander Consumer Finance. The survey was part of our National Older Workers Week.