Furlough warning as older workers risk being ‘thrown on the scrap heap’ | Personal Finance | Finance
Furlough is a scheme which has protected millions of jobs throughout the pandemic, but the financial assistance is set to draw to a close. This has led to fears of mass redundancies and unemployment sweeping the nation as businesses may no longer be able to afford to keep on employees. Recent research from the Resolution Foundation stated older workers aged 55 to 64 now face a higher risk of unemployment as the furlough scheme begins to be phased out.
And experts are warning of the dire consequences which may await older members of the workforce.
Many older workers are at risk, it has been said, due to outdated skills which may leave them unable to compete with other prospective employees.
New research from City & Guilds group has sown over a third of those aged 55 and over have not received any workplace training for a decade, or never at all.
This is worrying as less than half of older workers stated they have all the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.
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And with only 20 percent planning to retire in the near future, this means the majority will be left with outdated skills.
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group, commented on the matter.
She said: “We are all living longer, healthier lives than previous generations, meaning more people will also need to work until they are at least 70 to ensure they have enough saved to retire.
“But with the pace of change in businesses only exacerbated by the pandemic – and the data painting a clear picture of chronic under-investment in training older, more experienced workers – we risk consigning a generation of valuable workers to the scrapheap, just when many industries are crying out for more workers post Brexit and as we unlock society after the pandemic.
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“And, with many older workers impacted by the pandemic, we also need to create opportunities for them to re-enter the workplace, for instance through flexible work or training that fits around their responsibilities.
“Ultimately, if we don’t keep on investing in our workforce throughout their lives, recognising their value right through to retirement, older workers will not be able to contribute effectively to their employers and the economy in years to come.
“And this is something we simply can’t afford…”
By and large, Britons are working for longer than ever before.
With a rising state pension age, many do not feel comfortable departing the workforce before this point.
And some have even expressed they do not have the financial means to retire.
As a result, there will be more older workers in the workforce, and thus a greater need for protections.
The sentiments of City & Guilds Group were also echoed by Kevin Rowan, Head of Organising Services and Learning at the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
He said: “We fully agree with City & Guilds’ findings regarding older workers being left behind in the workplace.
“In our own research considering supporting older workers, released earlier this year, the TUC identified that older workers had been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
“We called for more support to help workers who need or choose to work later in life to identify and get access to training or resources they need, and better rights to enable them to work flexibly.”
Mr Rowan highlighted access to learning opportunities as a key factor to help Britons with quality work, fulfilling lives and good mental health.
He said the fact older workers were often being disadvantaged or prevented from learning could have major economic and social consequences.
As a result, he called for “genuine” lifelong learning to allow all Britons to benefit.