How can we better support over 50s into work?
What's important for people aged over 50, and how do work and learning fit into these priorities?
In this blog, Ploy Suthimai, Innovation and Change Manager, talks about our approach to understanding how best to support over 50s back into work.
At the Centre for Ageing Better we’ve been trying to understand how best to support individuals aged 50 and over back into work. Our previous research has shown that current employment support doesn’t work for this group, and new approaches are needed.
We’ve been working with our strategic partners at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, as well as with colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions, with the aim of taking a more innovative and person-centred approach to developing ways of supporting over 50s into work that truly meet people’s needs.
We’ve commissioned Humanly – an award-winning design studio specialising in human-centred design for social impact – to meaningfully involve people with lived experience, as well as key stakeholders within the employment support landscape in Greater Manchester, in the design, development and testing of new approaches.
Over the past 9 months, Humanly have engaged with over 168 stakeholders to generate new ideas. These range from people with lived experience who were actively seeking work or were long term unemployed to employment support providers, JobCentre Plus employees, and local employers, exploring not only the overarching barriers to employment and employment support, but the broader context in which these sit. For example, delving into questions such as:
- What are the priorities in life for people aged over 50, and how do work and learning fit into these priorities?
- Do people see any benefits to not working?
- What are people’s aspirations for retirement?
This approach of designing and testing ideas with people with lived experience has been a brilliant and different way of working – one that challenges us to not jump ahead and really focus on people’s thoughts and experiences. This process has helped us to understand not only the barriers to employment, but what people over 50 identified as important for a good working life, what they felt was needed for effective employment support and the broader issues around trust and the existing system of support.
We’ve been testing and refining employment support ideas related to these concepts, from re-imagining the procurement process to encourage smaller organisations to bid for funding, to re-thinking how the concept of apprenticeships could be made more relevant to over 50s. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic and working remotely from our homes, we’ve been engaging with people on the ground in Greater Manchester who have been brilliant at feeding back on our ideas and sharing their perspectives.
From taking part in online interviews and workshops to feeding back on mock website designs and invitations to tender, there has been a strong local appetite to take part in this work, with a recognition that the outputs of this research are even more important due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
Our next step is to test some of our ideas out on a larger scale, to see what elements of it work and don’t work in practice. More information about where we’ve got to so far can be found in our report. Additionally, if you would like to keep informed about our project you can sign up to our project newsletter by contacting this email.