• There were 107,000 over 50s made redundant in November to January 2021 – an increase of more than 70,500 or 195% year on year
  • Whilst redundancy levels in the UK have fallen from their peak, the fall has been slowest amongst the over 50s
  • The redundancy rate of those over the age of 50 is now higher than all other age groups and currently stands at 12.8 per thousand employees.
  • There were estimated to be nearly 1.3 million over 50s on furlough at the end of February 2021 – or 28% of the total furloughed workforce of 4.65 million.

Redundancies amongst the over 50s have increased by 195% in a year, with the level and rate both higher than any other age group, according to new analysis of official ONS statistics from Rest Less, the digital community for the over 50s.

Rest Less’s analysis of the latest data produced by the Office of National Statistics shows that nationally, redundancies hit a pandemic peak of 395,000 in September to November 2020. Whilst redundancy levels have fallen nationally by 22% since the peak, they are falling more slowly amongst older workers.

Stuart Lewis, Founder of Rest Less, commented on the analysis: “While there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the economy starting to open up, it’s clear that businesses are far from out of the woods yet, with many still struggling to survive and the level of redundancies remaining historically high.

‘Whilst the extra extension to the furlough scheme has stemmed the flow of redundancies for now, redundancy rates amongst the over 50s remain stubbornly high and are the highest of all age groups.

‘With an estimated 1.3 million workers over the age of 50 still on furlough, there is a very real danger of a tsunami of redundancies amongst workers in their 50s and 60s when struggling employers are required to increase their contribution to the furlough scheme from July.

‘This is of concern to all of us, as previous research has shown that once unemployed, workers over the age of 50 are two and a half times more likely to drift into long term unemployment than their younger counterparts due to a mix of age discrimination in the recruitment process and a lack of accessibility to tailored retraining programmes.

‘With the state pension now standing at 66 for both men and women, without more tailored Government support – similar to the scale and breadth of initiatives being put in place for younger workers – large-scale, long-term unemployment of this talented section of the population risks removing the engine room of growth for the entire UK economy.”

Kim Chaplain, Associate Director – Work, from the from the Centre for Ageing Better, commented: “These figures show just how devastating the impact of the pandemic has been on over-50s, with over 100,000 made redundant between November and January alone.

“This is particularly worrying because we know that over 50s, are likely to struggle more than any other group to get back into work – so we risk seeing many of these people leaving the workforce for good.

“In the months ahead, it’s vital that we build back a multigenerational workforce. Our economy needs both the direct contribution of experienced older workers and the support they provide to other, less experienced groups.

“We need to see targeted employment support to help over-50s back to work, and a strong message from government that not only is this group just as entitled to work as younger workers, they also provide a valuable contribution we cannot afford to lose.”

Rest Less’s Top Tips for Older Workers to Get Job-Application Ready

Don’t sell yourself short: there’s nothing wrong with being humble and modest, but when it comes to applying for jobs, you need to sell yourself as much as you can. No matter what your background is, you will have some skills or experience that are useful in some way. Even if you haven’t worked for the last five years because you’ve been caring for a sick family member, for example, try not to look at this as simply ‘being out of work’, but as an unpaid job where you developed skills like keeping calm under pressure, resilience, organisational skills, empathy and communication. Every experience is worth something and the chances are that you have experience that is more valuable than you realise.

Check for typos: you’d be surprised how many CVs and cover letters contain spelling or grammatical errors, and when you’re trying to stand out in a competitive jobs market, this is a quick way for your CV to end up in the rejection pile. One of the key things many employers look for are signs that you are able to take pride and care over your work, and that you have good attention to detail. Having mistakes on your CV or cover letter can suggest to employers that you aren’t serious about the job you’re applying for because you haven’t taken the time to check over your application. To avoid any grammar mistakes, it’s always best to check your application at least twice. Even better, ask someone you know to give it a once over too.

Focus on quality over quantity: Often it can feel like the quickest way to land a job is to fire out as many applications as possible to try and increase the likelihood that you’ll get a response. However, usually this means that you won’t have been able to take the time to tailor each one to the role you’re applying for. Employers want to hear specifics about why you want to work for their company and what positives you can bring to the role, so if you send the same generic application to every company you apply to, then there’s a good chance that it simply won’t capture an employers attention and you won’t make it to the next stage of the application process.

Always include a cover letter if you are given the opportunity: a cover letter is your chance to speak directly to an employer and briefly tell them the key reasons why you would be a good fit for the job. Try not to just repeat what’s on your CV, but use it as an opportunity to say why you’re really excited about the role and company.

Own your career gaps: CV gaps are common and can occur for any number of reasons, such as having to care for a family member, recovering from illness or taking a break to go travelling. Think about ways you can reframe the personal development you’ve been through as a result of your career gap. It’s always better to be honest and open about breaks in employment, rather than trying to hide them as gaps can often come to light during reference checks or at interview stage. As long as you can give a confident and reasonable explanation for any gaps – and avoid being overly apologetic – employers are human too and should accept your explanation at face value.

Keep your CV to the point: with decades of experience, it can be tricky to keep your CV to a maximum length of two pages. Whilst it’s important to fully explain your career and any gaps in recent experience, you don’t need to include experience from more than 15 or 20 years ago unless it’s particularly relevant to the specific job you are applying for. This can reduce the length of your CV significantly. Also take time to condense your experience and make it concise – employers can receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening and will typically make up their mind on a CV in a very short space of time. Help them by making short bullet points and don’t forget a strong and succinct opening statement that summarises your experience at the top and leaves them wanting to read more.

Use social media to your advantage: many employers will use social media to double check your background, particularly LinkedIn. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflects the points you make on your CV. LinkedIn is also a brilliant way to connect with people in your professional network which could lead to new job opportunities. When it comes to your other social media channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, remember that in the era of social media, we are all ‘on the record’ to a certain extent now. If you don’t want a potential employer to see a post, picture or video, make sure you check your privacy settings to control who sees what.

Believe in yourself! It can be hard to stay motivated in such a difficult jobs market and it’s common to suffer from a drop in confidence if you find yourself out of work for a while. Try to remember the decades of work, skills and life experience that you do have and think of specific examples that you can share on your CV or at interview stage. The wisdom that you probably take for granted is a valuable asset to businesses so use it to your advantage when communicating with a prospective employer.

For more tips on updating your CV, preparing for interviews and other careers advice, please visit https://restless.co.uk/career-advice/cv-writing-tips/.


Notes to Editors
*Rest Less’s analysis is based on seasonally adjusted Labour Force Survey data issued by the Office of National Statistics on 23 March 2021, covering the period November 2020 – January 2021.

*The redundancy rate is the ratio of the redundancy level for the given quarter to the number of employees in the previous quarter, multiplied by 1,000.

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Aisling Gray
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About Rest Less
Rest Less (restless.co.uk) launched in December 2018 and is a digital community for the over 50s designed to help its members get more out of life. Rest Less has thousands of jobs available on its site from progressive age-friendly employers across the country. Rest Less is the leading site in the UK to offer flexible opportunities to work, volunteer or even start a new career path, specifically targeting the rapidly growing over 50s market.