Each month new job figures come out and the Government, as well as the media, tend to focus on the overall numbers or look at what impact it’s having on young people not in education, work or training.
However, there is another group who also suffers with unemployment and that’s the over 50s. In the UK today, there are 372,000 unemployed over 50s, nearly half of them have been unemployed for over 12 months and in addition, there are nearly 3.3 million economically inactive 50 to 64 year olds.
This is a significant amount of people who are highly-skilled, with a vast amount of experience, but are not actively participating in the economy. It is absolutely vital that we address this situation as we are living longer, the retirement age continues to increase and in the future there are going to be more older people in the UK not working but less workers coming into the system to support them. This is crisis waiting to happen and also a significant waste of valuable resources.
The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) is a charity that offers a solution to the over 50s by helping them start their own businesses.
The charity was first established by HRH The Prince of Wales after he was contacted by people who complimented his efforts to help young people and asked if he could do something for older people as they felt that they were being overlooked by prospective employers simply because of their age.
Today there are around 1.87 million over 50s who work for themselves, which is 42% of the total amount of self-employed workers in the UK and PRIME is there to help first time business owners over the age of 50 ensure they start sustainable enterprises with the best chances for success. The charity achieves this through advice and guidance, online resources, workshops to boost skills, as well as specialist events, such as networking evenings, master-classes and mentoring clinics.
Starting businesses later in life presents a unique opportunity for older people, making good use of their skills and experience, and in-turn they will be benefiting the country’s growth. Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the UK economy; out of 4.9 million businesses in the UK, more than 99% are SMEs. Furthermore, SMEs account for 59.3% of private sector employment and 48.1 per cent of private sector turnover.
Today, the charity has 27,000 clients and there have been lots of news businesses started as a result. Research carried out by the charity suggests the majority start professional services-based enterprises, such as training or coaching, but many of their clients have established a multitude of new businesses as diverse as sustainable construction companies, online craft businesses, wedding caterers, clocks to help children tell the time and dog grooming salons.
Anne Williams from the North-East had a history of working in professional but in her late 50s she was made redundant felt that she wasn’t going to be employed again. However, Anne discovered the virtual assistant industry, which has led her to establish LinchpinPA, providing administrative services to other businesses which in-turn helps them concentrate on growing their own businesses.
To help build up LinchpinPA, Anne started to attend networking events to promote herself and gain new contacts, as well as attend free training sessions and webinars, which included PRIME’s three-day business training course. Anne has also developed her website and has started blogging, which increases her presence in the North East. All these measures combined means that Anne is now running a sustainable and successful business.
Nicky Templeton, Development Manager for PRIME, said: “We believe that the over 50s are perfect candidates to become new business owners due to their years of experience and if successful, they can make a decent living for themselves, as well as provide benefits for their communities and the local economy.”
For more information about PRIME please visit their website: www.prime.org.uk