Press release:

Small business needs ‘Help to Hire’ bootcamps to get over-50s back to work

Friday 10 March 2023

The Chartered Management Institute has called for the Department for Work and Pensions to fund an employer bootcamp to help small businesses to recruit and retain older workers to tackle the UK's employment rate still trailing pre-pandemic levels.

While the bulk of DWP programmes focus on  unemployed or economically inactive workers, helping employers to prevent older people from leaving their jobs in the first place and knowing how best to attract them to fill vacancies will be crucial to growing the economy and fulfilling Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s plea to the over-50s to return to paid employment.

The CMI, the UK’s professional body for leaders and managers, is calling for the creation of a programme similar to the Government’s existing Help to Grow: Management scheme that subsidises leaders in small firms to undertake an intensive course covering everything from adopting digital technology to sourcing new potential markets.

A Help to Hire course would support small businesses in identifying the levers that will make them more attractive to an ageing workforce and through the creation of local networks of participants, SMEs will have a chance to share what works with one another while expanding their professional networks.

Anthony Painter, Policy Director at CMI, said:

There are steps employers can consider when it comes to what works best for older workers to fill the skills gap that is a constant drag on the UK economy.

This includes everything from the type of flexibility that is needed to accommodate possible health issues, part time options that allow older people to work around caring responsibilities, tools to help diagnose any technological support or up-skilling that they might need, or even understanding how occupational health programmes should be viewed as an investment in their future business.

Done right, a Help to Hire course can save small businesses in the long run as it will cut the recruitment costs that come with employee turnover and will help them to create a more skilled, confident and ultimately more productive workforce. It needs to be viewed as an investment in the future of UK plc.

The call comes after CMI released research showing that employer attitudes towards hiring older workers were a barrier to filling vacancies across the economy, despite Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s plea to the over-50s to return to work. Research suggests that the problem of labour shortages is not going away, with one study estimating the UK economy will be missing 2.6 million workers by 2030.

There are 1.13 million job vacancies in the UK at present and the number of inactive workers in February remained 440,000 higher than at the start of the pandemic. The UK is the only G7 country that has not returned to pre-pandemic levels of employment.

CMI’s October survey of more than 1,000 managers working in UK businesses and public services found that three quarters (74%) are open to hiring younger workers between the ages of 18 and 34 to a large extent. But that number drops to just four out of 10 (42%) of managers who signalled they would be open to hiring people aged between 50 and 64 to a large extent. For those aged between 34 and 49, slightly more than six out of 10 were open to hiring them to a large extent.

For those over 65, the number drops even further, with only 3 in 10 being open to a large extent to hiring those close to state retirement age or older and 1 in 5 said their organisation was not open to the idea of hiring those over 65 at all.

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About the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the Chartered professional body for Management and Leadership, counting over 170,000 managers and leaders in its membership community. There are currently over 12,000 Chartered Managers and growing. Backed by a unique Royal Charter, CMI is the only organisation able to award Chartered Manager status – the ultimate management accolade, which is proven to boost individuals’ career prospects, management capability, and impact in the workplace.