IntoWork17 blog: Think local: A new approach to over 50s employment support

11th July 2017

An estimated one million people aged over 50 in the UK are involuntarily out of work.  Currently, employment support is not serving these people well – they are more likely to be workless, and more likely to be out of work for longer. So how can we better support people over 50 to find fulfilling work?

Our insight & co-design work in five neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester has shown that building on the assets that already exist at local level is an important part of the jigsaw.

A complex set of interrelated factors limit older jobseekers’ ability to get back into work. Individual-level issues such as health, caring responsibilities, self-perception. Structural issues such as the quality of work available, challenges with transport and access, employer practices and the lack of integrated, holistic employment support. Our experience in Greater Manchester suggests these common issues are experienced in very different ways depending on the neighbourhood you live in.

When we moved to co-design, people wanted to work with existing local assets, in places that they knew, with organisations – and indeed people – that they really trusted. An outsider might observe that that is all they know, and perhaps they need something completely new – but the voices we heard suggest otherwise. Confidence was low amongst this age group, difficulties in returning to work were significant. The importance of trusted relationships and deep local knowledge shouldn’t be underestimated. Even where there are bigger structural issues, getting people to engage with solutions needs a local response.

Taking a local approach isn’t likely to be easy or neat – worklessness and job insecurity aren’t easy or neat either. But our experience suggests it could really be transformative.