Main Report - Page 4 of 10
Advisers felt that this mind-shift towards retirement was difficult to argue against and that there were no obvious incentives to keep a claimant seeking work if their inclination was to sign off and the financial pressures on them to work were not an overriding factor in their employment decision making. However, a number of advisers were of the opposite view and stated that they routinely challenged the ‘winding down‘ mentality of older claimants and actively encouraged them to maintain their job search activities.
Older job seekers need to be challenged especially if they are fit and active. There is no reason why they cannot move back into work, they just need some convincing. (Adviser Comment, Online Survey). However advisers also noted that there were many older claimants who were highly motivated and enthusiastic about re-entering the labour market.
Many said that they have knowledge and skills and experiences and if they get a job they would stay, not like younger people who only want work experience and then leave” (Claimant Interviews)
This highly engaged subgroup of the wider 60 plus claimant group appeared to fall into two distinct groups - 1 - The higher educated self starters - highly motivated with advanced job search skills and links to professional/career based networks. This group of claimants required little direct support from Jobcentre plus and were most likely to move quickly back into employment.
2 - The highly motivated but lacking skills group. Again individuals who expressed a desire to move quickly back into employment but were thwarted by their lack of modern job search skills or narrow job search criteria and other factors such as lack of transport, medical restrictions and the such like. This group often lost confidence and commitment to job search activities the longer their claim continued. The correlation between declining confidence and length of claim was an issue that arose across all strands of the research.
Advisers noted that claimants were more likely to be positively disposed to employment at the beginning of their claim but would become increasingly pessimistic about their employment opportunities as their claim continued. Older claimants often concluded that their inability to secure employment was a direct result of their age, assuming employers had a natural preference for recruiting younger people.
Once this perception of age discrimination had been formed it tended to directly affect levels of motivation. Individuals assumed age discrimination would be difficult to challenge and therefore their chances of securing employment would be low.
Some Advisers noted that claimants often hit a crisis point in their claim, once they realised they were not getting the feedback from employers that they had first anticipated. It was at that point that many claimants started to voice negative statements about their age and job prospects. This pessimism about the job market often led directly to the conclusion that self imposed early retirement was a more rational and acceptable state to be in.
Advisers noted that many older claimants had well developed worked based skills, often acquired during an apprenticeship term but unfortunately many of these trade based skills, were either not supported by formal qualifications, or the qualifications were outdated and had been eclipsed by newer certification. This was considered to be a significant barrier for many older claimants who wished to re-enter the same profession from which they had exited.
Older claimants found that many employers required very specific qualification criteria which they deemed to be essential for the posts being advertised. Without being able to produce the necessary proof of qualification claimants found themselves immediately thwarted by not being able to satisfy the application criteria.