Over 50's spend longer out of work, what's the answer?

Old womanRecent figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed just how bad things are for the over 50s when they lose their job. Apparently 46% of people over the age of 50 who are out of work have been in this position for at least a year - up 31% from 2009.

With more and more of us having to work later in life, what's the answer to finding work after the age of 50?
Doors closed
If you find yourself looking for work in your 50s and 60s, there's no doubt that certain doors will be closed to you. Regardless of age discrimination legislation there are certain industries where you don't see anyone over the age of 50: sometimes because of the physical demands of the job and sometimes because of the inherent prejudices of the sector.

Doors open
There are some, such as retail, where older workers have been positively embraced, and those such as B&Q and Sainsbury's have been blazing a trail for older employees.

However, not everyone wants to work in retail and - frankly - there aren't enough of these jobs to go around. For other work, the answer may be to track down a recruitment agency that specialises in older people, such as wiseowls.co.uk or wrinkles.org.uk. These specialise in putting forward mature, skilled and experienced candidates, and demonstrating the huge advantages of the older workforce. They can help with training and marketing your skills.

New business
Alternatively, now may be the time to go it alone. You may want to go freelance in the sector where you have worked, and you may be able to rely on the contacts you have built up during decades on the job.

Alternatively it may be time for something completely new. There are some industries where there is massive demand and few skilled and willing people. Childminding is second nature to many grandparents, and yet there is a massive unmet demand in some areas. Likewise, those under the age of 30 don't seem to know one end of a power tool from the other, so place a high value on those who do. Or it could be time to make money from your hobbies. Your passion for painting, photography, calligraphy or design could hold the secret to a lucrative second career.

Plan ahead
Even if your 50s and 60s seem a long way off, it's worth putting your mind to this conundrum. At some stage everyone is going to find themselves in this position. And as retirement age edges later and later, there is a real need for us all to have firm plans in place for our later years - with the relevant training, skills and qualifications in place to make it happen - so it's well worth making plans as soon as possible in order to ensure when the time comes we're ready to embark on a second career rather than join the dole queue.

But what do you think? What's the answer for you? Let us know in the comments.
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