As the average working age continues to rise, divides have emerged between the five generations within the UK workforce. Distinguishing between Millennial “snowflake” employees and experienced, resilient workers entering their middle years has lead to a conflictory dialogue. This doesn’t have to be the case - all cohorts can agree on the end of loyalty and accept a core requirement to maintain employability for the long-term.
A comprehensive set of employment training programmes for disadvantaged groups are serviced by Business in the Community (BITC). Most recently BITC launched a new flagship programme, 50+ Ready for Work, focusing on upskilling and pointing experienced, middle-aged employees towards unforeseen opportunities.
During a launch event at Aviva’s head office in Bristol to close 2019, BITC announced the completion of pilot courses designed to prepare middle-aged workers to return to part-time or full-time employment. The suite of 50+ Ready for Work courses has been designed on the premise that even someone in their middle years still has a prosperous and exciting career ahead of them.
To improve the status of work, BITC ran a pilot with 60 people to see how free, accessible job support influenced employment outcomes. The pilot reflected a broader effort to systematically assess competencies of middle-aged employees to see what roles they might be suited to. Since completing the programmes at the end of 2019, half of the trainees have found permanent work or training. Based on an initial grant for £36,000 to complete the programmes, this comes to £600 cost per candidate
One trainee, Nicola, had worked in a bookstore for 36 years before being made redundant. After spending just one day with BITC, she was connected with a facility management provider who was looking to hire administrative staff to handle requests from client properties. Nicola enjoyed the trial phase and now works with the facility management company two days per week, with an option to increase her hours. Meanwhile the employer has been impressed by Nicola’s meticulous attention to detail and gratefully accepted the hire.
The extent of Bristol’s ageing population mirrors trends across the UK. As of 2019, 27% of the city’s residents were 50+ years. Of the 10,000 unemployed in the Bristol area, over one quarter are over 50. More broadly, the UK has 10m people over the age of 50, capturing two thirds of the country’s working experience.
The pilot was funded by the nascent Aviva Foundation, a new entity formed from non-responsive shareholdings. The foundation have committed to creating community resilience and sustainable finance and are just beginning to explore how their grants can map and mirror the for-profit side of the insurance business. Aviva themselves invite their over-45s employees to take part in a Mid-Life MOT, an assessment which looks at their career to-date and signposts a path forwards at the company.
With 5000 of its 15,000 UK employees aged 45-and-over, Aviva have seen how fundamental investment in people is to ensuring that the business prospers. Given the experience of Nicola and others who have passed through the pilot, attracting talent with developed workplace experience presents an opportunity. What’s more, this population contains the majority of Aviva knowledge, 85,000 years in total Aviva memory.
For more information on BITC and their toolkit in PDF form, visit bitc.org.uk/employment.