New research shows that the number of long-term unemployed is at its highest since 1997, with the largest rises among the over-50s. Maybe it’s time to target the over-60s ‘job-blockers’ and force them to retire?
Nearly half (45.9%) of over-50s who are unemployed have been out of a job for a year or more, up from 31% in 2009, according to the thinktank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
And the squeeze is happening at both ends. Just over 10% of unemployed 18-24 year olds were out of work for more than a year in the mid 2000s. That proportion is now 27%.
Fierce competition for few jobs
It’s only going to get worse. For a start, the impending huge increase in university fees will force hundreds of thousands of young people into the workplace at 16 or 18. Coupled with local government spending cuts and a clampdown on benefits claimants, the number of people fighting over every job vacancy is likely to surge.
So what’s the answer if you’re in your 50s and 60s and find yourself out of a job? Some firms are well-known for employing older workers – B&Q and ASDA spring to mind. And yet, while customers and companies undoubtedly benefit from having older staff members, many of these jobs make insufficient use of the expertise and experience they’ve gained elsewhere.
Should older job-blockers retire?
Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Rather than questioning how we get the over-50s back into jobs that simply don’t exist, perhaps we should force those over state retirement age to actually retire? In other words, address the ‘job-blocking’ issue (similar to the NHS’s previous bed-blocking problems).
Of course, that would require everyone to have suitable financial plans in place which would allow them to retire comfortably. And that in turn means saving more, and for longer. Auto-enrolment and NEST have made a start in addressing this point, but the hard fact is that there just aren’t enough jobs to go round and the state can’t be relied upon to provide a generous safety net for those without a job or in retirement.
So what do you think? Here are a few options to start you off, none of them perfect, but some of them perhaps unavoidable?
A. Reintroduce enforced retirement once you reach state retirement age.
B. Introduce tax incentives to encourage retirement at state retirement age.
C. Raise the state retirement age yet further, ploughing the state pension cash saved back into job creation schemes and tax incentives for employers.
D. Force people to pay into a pension from a much earlier age.
E. Introduce obligatory income and unemployment insurance for all adults.