An innovative project to help the over-50s most at risk of long-term unemployment is underway in the West Midlands.
The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in Coventry and Warwickshire, the Black Country and Greater Birmingham and Solihull submitted a joint bid to the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions to run the ten-week Mid-Life MOT programme.
Their successful bid for funding means the three LEPs will work alongside the National Careers Service, Public Health England and the Money and Pensions Service to focus on health, skills and finances.
A series of webinars, particularly targeting SMEs, will be held over the next six weeks, starting every week from Monday, March 8 for individuals and Monday, March 15 for employers.
Information and help about the Mid-Life MOT will be featured on the three LEPs’ websites and social media as well as promoted by a range of organisations and groups throughout the region including Growth Hubs, Chambers of Commerce, the FSB, redundancy taskforces and the newly-formed GBSLEP Skills and Apprenticeship Hub.
Marion Plant, vice-chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and chair of its Productivity and Skills Business Group, said this was an opportunity to promote, support and re-evaluate skills, health and wellbeing to SMEs and their 50-plus employees.
“Employment for the over-50s has been adversely impacted over the last 20 years and it has been brought into sharp focus by Covid-19 which has highlighting the need for people to re-consider their career in a new sector, upskill or re-skill.
“The over-50s are at a higher risk of experiencing persistent long-term unemployment and worklessness compared to younger groups. This means that without early and targeted employment, careers and skills support they are unlikely to return to the labour market, and are at an increased risk of becoming long-term unemployed or economically inactive and fall into pensioner poverty.
“The Mid-life MOT will help to address and identify issues which need to be focused on as we move towards the recovery stage of the pandemic to equip older people with the skills needs for their future as well as benefit businesses in their recovery by increasing productivity through a higher-skilled workforce.”
Chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Tim Pile said:
“With one in three of the working-age population over 50, the Mid-life MOT is a great opportunity to stop and plan ahead and to boost your own resilience as circumstances around you change, from losing your job unexpectedly to health problems. “The online course will help businesses and individuals to evaluate what they need to put in place to ensure longevity of working-life through skills training, improving health and financial forecasting.
“Anyone over 50 is eligible to apply and I urge both employers and employees to take up the offer. It’s important for businesses to realise the potential of their workforce and to ensure they have healthy workers with the right skills as we all look to emerge from the pandemic and build an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.”
Professor Nazira Karodia, Chair of the Black Country LEP Employment and Skills Advisory Board and Pro Vice Chancellor Regional Engagement at the University of Wolverhampton, commented:
“The Mid-life MOT programme comes at exactly the right moment as we work collectively across the region to support individuals, in this case the over-50s, to recover from the impact Covid-19 has had on employability and career prospects.
“Through supporting the over-50s to re-evaluate their work, health and finances, explore re-skilling and flexible working, consider ways of maintaining and improving health and review pension prospects, the Mid-Life MOT programme will help create a resilient and skilled future-directed work-force which includes older people. “
The Black Country’s strategic aim is to grow its global supply chain with world class skills to maximize the benefits of the region's location and resources. We need these skills to ensure our continued economic recovery and working with our LEP partners to support the over-50s to review their health, skills and finances, we continue to create the conditions for employability and up-skilling.”