Department for Work and Pensions: Empowering the over 50s
This week marks National Older Workers week – an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the value that experienced workers bring to a business.
Louise Berry, a 50 Plus Champion for Cheshire, explains how she helps older workers find their way back into the labour market.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has a network of dedicated 50 Plus Champions across England, Scotland and Wales. I’m thrilled to be one of them. My job is not just a job – it’s a mission to make a positive impact on the lives of older people seeking work.
This week marks National Older Workers Week which gives me the opportunity to reflect on why I do the job I do. Simply put, it’s because day in and day out I help older workers find their way back into the labour market.
Last week, the DWP announced it has doubled the number of 50 Plus Champions. There are now 74 of us who work directly with Jobcentres and employers to remove any barriers that are keeping the over 50s out of work.
Seeing individuals progress first-hand, whether that is entering a new sector or getting back into work, gives me and my colleagues in Jobcentre Plus immense satisfaction. We are, in essence, helping change lives.
With over 30 years of experience in various Jobcentres in various roles such as a Benefit Advisor and Work Coach Team Leader, I have a profound understanding of the intricacies of finding and securing employment. But I also know that this cohort requires an extra level of support as, like those I support in this role, I am also in my fifties.
This means I am able to relate to the challenges and barriers jobseekers can face being older.
Age-friendly Employer Pledge
Crucially, the role helps to bridge the gap between older jobseekers and employers, promoting the benefits of hiring experienced workers aged 50 and above. You may also be surprised to hear but many big employers such as B&M and Marks & Spencer are eager to create diverse teams and are willing to work closely with me and my colleagues. They’re receptive to the idea of becoming age-friendly employers, often by signing up for the pledge promoted by the Centre for Ageing Better. The resources available through this initiative are invaluable, making the hiring process smoother and more inclusive.
The DWP has also signed the Age-Friendly Employer Pledge, recognising the huge benefit that a multigenerational workforce brings and actively encourages other departments and employers to sign up
As a Champion I engage directly with individuals who are aged 50 and above, discussing not just work but also topics like wellbeing and, of course, pensions, helping them to plan for the long-term future. My journey in this role has been a profound learning experience, and I am passionate about passing on the knowledge I’ve gained to as many people as possible.
The role of a 50 Plus Champion is unique and constantly evolving. Me and my fellow Champions across Great Britain are working tirelessly to create tailored support packages and events for older jobseekers. Recently, I put together an event for the veteran community, working in partnership with the local Armed Forces Champion. This included a round table where older jobseekers could meet with employers face-to-face and talk about combatting ageism in the workplace. My journey is filled with fulfilment, as we navigate the path toward empowering older workers and connecting them with employers eager to embrace age diversity in the workforce.
I want everyone to know that older workers are a huge asset and that’s why the Government is investing millions to specifically support the over 50s, including expanding the Midlife MOTs so people get the best advice before retiring.
If you want to reach out to a 50 Plus Champion, you can find and contact your local Jobcentre Plus here.
An age-inclusive workforce makes business sense and I’m determined to connect job-ready people with the vast numbers of opportunities out there. Older workers still have a lot to offer, and I will continue to work hard to highlight their worth.