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ARE you job hunting?
Well, the good news is that there are record numbers of vacancies across the UK – in fact, there were 1.2 million jobs on offer between September and November last year. So there’s bound to be one that is perfect for you, whatever your age or experience.
Even better, the Government is throwing its weight behind a wide range of schemes and training plans – as well as Jobcentre Plus work coaches – designed to equip workers of all ages, including those over 50, with the tools and skills they need to find an exciting and rewarding new job. It could be in sectors such as social care, manufacturing and green careers – installing solar panels, managing a farm or working with electric vehicles, all of which are crying out for workers.
“People don’t realise there’s so much help available,” says Tina, a Jobcentre Plus work coach based in Manchester.
“We offer free training in pretty much anything you can think of. There’s this myth that we shove people into any old job, but that’s false – I want my customers to feel positive about getting out of bed in the morning.”
Tina knows that some of her more mature jobseekers worry that their age is a barrier to employment. In fact, their skills are in great demand and Tina advises them to think outside the box and explore sectors that might not have occurred to them in the past.
And Tina, who’s in her early fifties, knows what she’s talking about, because that’s exactly what she did when the pandemic meant work dried up in her freelance marketing role.
“I did some research and found the Department for Work and Pensions was running a big recruitment campaign for work coaches. It wasn’t a job I’d ever considered, but I like people and thought it could be a rewarding role.
“I did two months of quite intensive, very interesting training and started in March 2021,” she says. “I really enjoy it – I meet some amazing people and it’s satisfying to feel I’m having a positive impact on their lives.”
Tina says the first place to start job hunting is jobhelp.campaign.gov.uk, the Government’s JobHelp website.
“It’s designed to help our customers find the right opportunities for them,” she says. Tina also advises taking the Midlife MOT quiz to see what you need to do to get match fit for the future.
She warns older workers not to fall for myths such as IT being a job just for young people, because there are roles to suit people of all ages.
“There’s something for everybody, regardless of how old you are, what stage you’re at with your job search, whether you’ve never worked and have always been a homemaker or you are looking for something completely new after a long career in a certain sector,” Tina says.
“But it’s best to be honest with your work coach about your worries because the better they understand you, the more effectively they can help.”
Take Stuart, 53, from Newton Abbot. After decades working in catering, he was made redundant during the pandemic. He found the meeting with his work coach extremely helpful.
“I mentioned that a few of my friends worked in the care sector and loved it,” he says. “So we started exploring whether I could move into that area too.
“I realised that after 30 years in catering, I fancied spreading my wings.”
Stuart was signed up to the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme and was given a computer so he could take IT courses from home.
“I also did a free course in mental health and another in safeguarding,” he says. “I did so many courses, in fact, that I was given shopping vouchers as a reward for my hard work.”
Advisers helped tailor Stuart’s CV towards a role in the care sector, shortening his work history and highlighting his communication skills. He was even given interview training to boost his confidence and prepare him for the jobs market.
Stuart’s Zoom interview went really well and he is now working as a one-to-one support worker for adults with learning disabilities. Six months on, he is fulfilled and happy at work.
“I enjoy the interaction with my clients,” he says. “When I see smiles on their faces, it’s so rewarding.”
If you’re like Tina or Stuart and looking for the next chapter of your career, search JobHelp for support, training and advice on finding your next opportunity.
There’s lot of Government support on offer for older workers, especially those who want to move into sectors where there are a growing number of vacancies. The best way to start accessing opportunities is via your Jobcentre Plus work coach, but here are some of the great schemes to look out for:
Job Entry Targeted Support
This is a six-month programme for people who have been out of work and claiming benefits for 13 weeks or more. Programme advisers put together an individual action plan to help people return to the workplace. There is also training available in IT, CV writing and interview techniques. Advisers can place people on the Sector-Based Work Academy Programme for up to six weeks on-the-job experience with an employer and a guaranteed interview at the end.
Find out more here
A new scheme, Restart, is available to people who have been out of work for over a year. It’s like Job Entry Targeted Support but is more intensive, with 365 days of personalised support to find a job and your own adviser who’ll be in touch throughout. Restart also gives you access to the latest tech to power your job search – you can simulate interviews for yourself and play them back, as well as check your CV to get scores on different sections, so you know which bits are working for you and where improvement is required. Visit uk/government/publications/restart-scheme
Work and Health Programme
This programme is designed for jobseekers coping with an illness or disability. Advisers will help you manage your health issues and explore jobs that will suit you. Go to gov.uk/work-health-programme
Access to work
Under this scheme, a grant is available to provide practical support for working people with physical or mental health conditions. This includes taxi fares or adaptations to your car if you can’t use public transport. Visit gov.uk/access-to-work
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