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Bid to help over-50s keep working

The Government is pledging to tackle ageism in the workplace by offering fresh support to older jobseekers.

A scheme will be launched in April across the UK to give "intensive" work support to over-50s, including help to get online and links with smaller firms with vacancies.

Ministers said research showed that if the 1.2 million unemployed over-50s were supported into a job, it could add £50 billion to the economy.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: "With 50 being the new 30, there are more and more older workers wanting to make the most of their skills and experience in a new career, and they have a hugely valuable contribution to make to any workforce.

"Despite the recent impressive trends in those over 50 getting back into work, older workers still in many cases face outdated stereotypes when it comes to business hiring practices.

"Not only is this a waste of valuable talent and 'life skills', but it's a missed opportunity for businesses to make their most of their experience to support younger colleagues develop their careers.

"As part of our long-term economic plan, our champions will tackle outdated views that older workers are somehow 'past it' so that more people get the security of a regular wage in 2015."

Pensions Minister Steve Webb added: "Older workers have an enormous contribution to make in the workplace and increasingly employers are waking up to this. But it's also clear that old-fashioned and outdated perceptions still persist.

"That's why we've made it a priority to support older workers to stay in the workplace and to help employers understand their value - and we're now going to take that even further."

Under the new scheme, older jobseekers will also be offered a "career review" with an expert.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said, "For too long the plight of unemployed older workers has gone under the radar despite evidence that it's harder for people aged 50 and over to get back into a job than any other age group.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with so many experienced and skilled people finding themselves locked out of the job market simply because of their age.

"We welcome this new initiative and recognition that older people have an important part to play in contributing to the UK economy."

Paul Green from Saga, which serves the over-50s, said: " Many employers recognise the great work ethic, experience and life skills that older employees offer. However, losing you job in later life can be devastating. Older people are more likely to become long-term unemployed than other age groups, so giving them help to reskill and get back into work will be hugely beneficial.

"As well as being good for individuals, having an age diverse workforce is good for the economy. A recent study carried out for Saga by the independent Centre for Economics and Business Research concluded that over 50s' spending supported some 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the UK in 2013.

"In addition the increased spending power of working over 50s is becoming economically more important. In fact, if, as of 2003, over 50s consumer spending had only grown at the same rate as under-50s spending, by 2013 UK GDP would have been depressed by 4.2% or £6.8 billion, and by 2018, UK GDP as forecast would be depressed by 6.8%."

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