Older workers suffer a chronic underinvestment
In a bid to stave off an unemployment crisis, the Government has announced a new £500m support scheme to help workers who came off furlough at the end of September.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to announce new measures that will include prioritising those coming off furlough for one-to-one support from jobcentres and extending the £3,000 incentive for employers to take on apprentices until the end of January 2022.
Sunak is expected to continue with his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to support people through the crisis. According to news reports, Sunak will announce more plans for investment in the nation’s infrastructure and skills network, including tech.
Following the announcement that Sunak will be “throwing the kitchen sink” at helping unemployed Britons, industry experts have weighed in on Sunak’s plans and there have been mixed comments. APSCo for example, doesn’t feel that this will solve the skills crisis.
Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo commented: “While the additional funds are a welcome move, our concern is that these initiatives need to have the appropriate financial support, backing and processes that are required to make them wholly successful. The Kickstart Scheme, for example, received a wealth of interest initially, but the success has been limited, largely due to the over-lengthy processes that are in place. As a case in point, of the roles APSCo submitted on behalf of its members to the scheme, just 22% were filled, with a number of staffing companies still waiting on any referrals at all.
“We are also concerned that many of the initiatives – including the investment in skills and the changes to visa requirements – remain focused on the creative industries. There needs to be a clear plan that supports core skills development across all professions in the UK.”
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group weighed in, too: “Last week, the furlough system came to an end, leaving the jobs of a million people across the UK hanging in the balance. Half of those were workers aged 50 and over. Whilst unemployed young people saw interventions and safety nets put in place during the pandemic, unfortunately the same could not be said for older workers. Our recent Skills Index research highlights that older workers also suffer from a chronic underinvestment in training, meaning many will struggle to re-enter the workplace despite their wealth of knowledge, skills and experience.
“Today, we have seen Rishi Sunak announce an extension to the Kickstart scheme as well as the introduction of an AI scholarship plan. Whilst these announcements are a positive step for the economy, they are once again tailored towards supporting young people. It is disappointing that the anticipated £500m support package for displaced workers, including support for older workers, was not mentioned in the Chancellor’s speech.
“We still need to see more action from both Government and employers to recognise the value and potential of older workers. At a time where critical skills gaps plague the UK economy, it’s never been more important to support the full workforce, from those just starting out on their career through to those aged 50 and over.”