Is age a factor in redundancies following the end of the furlough scheme?
22 October 2021 by Bushra Elzubeir
The Government expected peak unemployment levels to be higher than they currently are when taking into account the expectancy at the start of the pandemic.
Many businesses are still expecting further redundancies following the end of the furlough scheme, which closed on 30 September 2021.
Despite there being record job vacancies and employers really struggling to hire the expertise they need in key areas – which has been well publicised recently – regarding positions in including in the healthcare sector and in transport with HGV drivers, there is a rather strange polarisation in the job market, with unemployment levels across many age groups still a source of concern.
There are trends being noticed in the economic activity of those who are 50 and over, which suggest that the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics- which say that there were 800,000 people on the furlough scheme when it closed on 30 September 2021 and 500,000 of those were over 50 years old, is likely to mean that a significant proportion of those who find themselves redundant recently are older employees.
Kirstie Donnelly, CEO at City & Guilds, said that there are “few safety nets” and a “chronic under-investment” in training for older workers returning to the job market after furlough.
On 4 October 2021, the Chancellor announced a £500 million expansion of the Government’s plans for jobs initiatives, which will target support to workers leaving the furlough scheme; the unemployed aged over 50, the lowest paid people and young people.
A new support package for workers who are aged over 50 will aim to help them stay in and return to work. Those who are on Universal Credit and have also lost their jobs will receive intensive, tailored support to help them find work.
For the already unemployed, the Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme is being extended until September 2022.
The Scheme is aimed at providing support for those coming off furlough and on to Universal Credit instead. Practically speaking, it should provide online, tailored support for those who are unemployed for less than three months.
To support the lowest paid people in the UK, from April 2022, workers on Universal Credit will be able to access support in relation to career progression advice. Jobcentre Plus specialists will also work with employers to identify suitable opportunities to help workers in their quest for direction and progression.