Older workers will need tailored support to recover from steel plant redundancies
Tata Steel has confirmed it is cutting 2,800 jobs across the UK, including 2,500 at its Port Talbot site. The steel industry is known for having a high proportion of older workers who are likely to be hit hard by this announcement.
The redundancies confirmed today are part of the transition to cheaper, more environmentally friendly production at the South Wales site, which the government said will also safeguard employment for thousands of workers.
Tata have said that voluntary redundancies will be sought and more than £130m will be committed to a support package for affected employees.
The Centre for Ageing Better has been piloting a new model of support to help people in their 50s and 60s find fulfilling work after redundancy.
The project has been running in the West Midlands with a specific focus on older workers that have been lost their jobs in heavy industry and manufacturing.
The project is particularly focussed on people who are being made redundant from life-long or long-term jobs, as redundancy can come as a shock and a blow to their self-esteem.
Taking a group-coaching approach, the course helps individuals develop practical skills so that they have a greater chance of finding work and being financially secure in retirement.
Dr Emily Andrews, Deputy Director for Work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It is very concerning to hear the scale of job losses proposed today at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.
We know this is an industry with comparatively more older workers, and so a large proportion of the people facing redundancy today will likely be over 50. Many will never have worked in a different organisation, let alone a different industry.
“The statistics tell us the struggle that workers over 50 face when made redundant; they are three times less likely to return to work within three months than those under 50.
“This is a huge waste of talent. Our own research and support work tells us that confidence-building, space to process the grief, high-quality group coaching, and straightforward CV support can make a huge difference in these circumstances. Older workers going through the trauma of redundancy, particularly after many years of loyal service, need space to process shock and grief as well as encouragement to look at their needs, aspirations and transferable skills.
“We welcome the commitment from Tata Steel of a comprehensive support package to mitigate the impact of any anticipated job losses, including helping employees to retrain and find new jobs.
“But these words will be need to be backed up by action. And we hope that high-quality redundancy support will be made available, with specific support in place for older workers. Our work shows that a group coaching service for shop-floor workers over 50 can make a real difference to their ability to navigate the jobs market they will now be facing.”