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Finished at Fifty? Join the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 14:23 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

If you find yourself out of work in your fifties, you're far less likely to find a new job than any other age group.

But are they victims of their own inflexibility or should more be done to help them?

Uncompromising advice from former business leader Lord Digby Jones challenges four jobless 50-somethings to change their approach to job-hunting.

Reporter Fiona Phillips reveals a group of people facing stacks of rejection letters and money worries after a lifetime at work.

Can they beat the odds and get their working lives back on track?

We welcome your views on Finished at Fifty? Please use this forum to leave a comment.


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  • Comment number 1.

    To Whom it may concern
    I am 53yrs old laid of from my job 23/10/2009 since then it has been very difficult to get back into work, I apply for many jobs a week and have the evidence, I've been to interviews without success, Everything is based around the younger generation , I have worked all my life, I feel im can not go forward im am now at risk of losing everything i have worked for,IE my car and my home, Myself and my partner splitup after a 9yr relationship because of the financial presure. Im now on anti depressants and feel isolated , I can not afford to go and see my daughter who lives in lossimouth as she is married into the RAFAlong with my only two lovely grandsons ,I have a Daughter at uni whom i can not help financially, I have done numerous courses, I personally think after 50 you then become unemployable. I now dont know were to turn anymore .

    Yours sincerely

    Sharon Blackmore

  • Comment number 2.

    Did you know that new rules this government is putting in place from 6th April actually subsidise companies through tax free allowances to use migrant workers rather than residents?

    Still waiting for the broadcast to go out, so it will be interesting to see if this is mentioned by the Panorama team.

    Google 'ict lost revenue' and see the FOI requests posted which this government would rather you didn't know about.

  • Comment number 3.


    I am 57 and was made redundant in August, 2009. I have been working freelance off and on since then. (I am finishing a short assignment after 5 months between assignments but have nothing lined-up at the moment.)

    I have applied for jobs on a regular basis since then and have been on a number of interviews for full-time work without luck. My experience is similar to one of those you profile: at times I have been interviewed by people much younger than myself and this has been mentioned as a possible problem moving forward. It is a tough market out there and my level of experience (and expected salary) do not help.

    In answer to the expert quoted in your article: I have applied for jobs at much lower salaries than I was making at redundancy but employers don't believe that one would be happy and productive making less money. I have kept my skills up-to-date; going back to school at this point to learn new skills or a different industry would just make me older and less desirable as a candidate when I was finished with schooling. Emigrating is not much of an answer either; I have US citizenship and the job market is just as poor there. I could move to another part of the UK or Europe but one faces the same problems of age discrimination and poor job market.

    The government wants us to work until we're 70 but employers aren't interested in hiring people once they get much beyond the age of 55....


  • Comment number 4.

    I lost my job one year ago and have been looking initially in my field of experience as an IT Trainer/Assessor but the new Government cut funding to Post 16 training, so I have been looking at anything I am capable of doing, even night shift work in supermarkets. But I have found nothing. I am 51 yrs of age and have worked since I was 17 yrs old. I have a mortgage and two young children (11 yrs & 6 yrs). I only recieved benefit for 6 months and then nothing. I very rarely get any reply when applying for jobs and even when I do it is to be gently disappointed and told "due to the high number of quality applications we are sorry to inform you". Age and experience seem to count for nothing especially when it is cheaper to employ younger inexperienced people. I am supposed to have a further 15 - 20 yrs work in me but cannot find employment. I have experience and qualifications in IT, IT Training & Teaching, Retail, Management and Business Admin but the usual always applies, too old/too experienced. I would retrain in another skill area but I cannot afford to pay between £4,000-£5,000 for a course. Catch-22. I don't even sign on for my stamp anymore due to the way I was treated at the Jobcentre. I have over 30 yrs of NI payments so my pension would not get any bigger. The benefit system and employment system is massively flawed in this country, time for a change, Vote Labour.

  • Comment number 5.

    i am 83 and am a sub-postmaster. you should offer your services unpaid. or do voluntary work. this will get you in circulation and stop feeling sorry for yourself.
    Peter Skeffington

  • Comment number 6.

    There is no reason for anyone, of any age over 18 to whenever one wants to stop, to not be earning. I would suggest all anxious out-of-work or redundant people to look into Network Marketing. We have distributors up to their eighties and include disabled. No special qualities needed. All training and back-up provided freely and willingly. Try[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 7.

    Forget working for someone else - work for yourself, but not by yourself

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm 57, out of work for a year and I have a mobility problem - I walk with a stick. I've applied for any job I feel I can do but: 1, the govt keep telling employers to give work to the young, 2, there are more unemployed than there are jobs available and 3, I can see the shutters go up behind interviewers eyes when I walk in. With my problem and age they are simply not interested. Volunteer? Well I did 7 years voluntary work and when I left they didn't even say thank you - not a great incentive to do it again. All I'm looking for is a part time job, 20-25 hpw, but for me the doors are firmly closed.

  • Comment number 9.

    I volunteered to be considered for redundancy when my terms of pension were being changed to what I considered a lower amount than I expected. Also my part of the Civil Service was closing down due to a legacy system coming to the end of its life. I applied for interviews throughout 5 months of my notice period and had 50 + applications. I the last 4 weeks before my last day of work I was offered a job with a fellow redundee and 2 other jobs similar to my civil service job. As one of these jobs paid considerably more than the other I took it and have not looked back.

    My advice to 50 plus unemployed is:
    1. Use the internet
    2. Write a special CV for each job
    3. Get up to date on your own field and learn about companies you may want to work with
    4. Bolster your skills and experience without being big headed
    5. My ambition was to join a successful company and be a success myself
    6. Turn getting a job into a job in its own right

    Whilst you wait for work get all those jobs around the house done and start keeping fit. Its a question I was asked every time what was I doing whilst waiting for a job.

  • Comment number 10.

    I have just watched the Panorama programme with great interest I am a 57 year old woman who is facing the threat of redundancy. I am also one of the women who now faces having to wait till I am 64 till I receive my pension under the new rules being proposed by the governement in their review of the SPA. I hear lots of people talking but no one seems to be listening to the plight of this very vulnerable age group.

    I would like some straight answers to a couple of very simple questions.
    If in fact I get made redundant what support will I get and for how long? Instead of me having to survive for another couple of years till my pension starts I will now have to wait six years... during this time it is highly likely I will be unemployed and how does this government expect me to survive on my own. At this late stage in my life and with this change about to be railroaded through I do not see how I can possibly find any way to make any provision for myself to try and cope with this extended period of unemployment Bearing in mind I am one of the many who have paid all their contributions throughout their working life believing the word of the goverment that I would be catered for in my old age! At least with a pension at 60 I would have some financial support. Do the government not understand that there are consequences to their actions!

  • Comment number 11.

    What price experience? It is not just over-50s local authority personnel who are losing their jobs in education. The media does not yet seem to have picked up on the fact that supposedly safeguarded front line services such as the teaching of children are being threatened by the very real cuts to schools' budgets. Again, it's the over-50s who are being asked to take the hit, through (at the moment) voluntary redundancy. Many of these teachers are in senior management positions, so maybe they're not 'front-line' after all!

  • Comment number 12.

    Just watched the programme and noticed that the 4 people used as case studies are all professional people with high level skills. I'm also assuming that none of them have any form of disability as no disabilities were mentioned in the broadcast. In itself I find this focus upon non-disabled people with high level skills as presenting a biased picture. The reality is that any one of these people could probably find a job in a supermarket or other retail outlet. True the pay wouldn't be great but at least it would be a start. I contrast this to the situation that I would face if my currently uncertain employment was to cease. As someone in their early 50s and with a physical disability my job options are considerably more restricted that those of the people featured in the programme.

    I also would like to comment upon the views of Mr Digby Jones, which I found to be patronising. I'm sure that Mr Digby Jones is a very successful person who has a specific viewpoint on how to find a job. I'm also sure that with his personal connections and wider support structures that he would have no problems ever finding a job. Other people who are less blessed in terms of their social and cultural capital would face greater problems; especially if their basic personality is of a more reserved and introverted nature. Mr Jones' 'one size fits all' approach is typical of that expressed by people who while professing the ideology of 'individualism' fail to actually treat people as individuals. This is certainly apparent in government policy that adopts a blanket approach towards the benefit system and benefit claimants.

    Another issue that was overlooked in the programme was the dual impact of geographical location and rurality on the number of job opportunities that exist. In areas where there are large conurbations with high levels of public transport the situation would be considerably different to more sparsely populated rural areas where public transport is at best infrequent and at worst non-existent.

    There are many other factors that need to be considered and I recognise that it would not be possible to fully embrace the complexities involved in a 30 minute programme or indeed in a series of 30 minute programmes. These criticisms aside I think the program does make a vital contribution to the unemployment debate and brings to the fore the issue of ageism when it comes to the 'business' of hiring and firing.

  • Comment number 13.

    We run a project in West Cornwall called Enterprise Facilitation. This is hosted by Conrwall Development Company the economic development arm of Cornwall Council. Enterprise Facilitation is an economic strategy from the Sirolli Institute (www.sirolli.com) that is a proven strategy developed over 25 years around the world. Enterprise Facilitation works on the basis that to be a successful entrepreneur is not about doing it alone but recognising three strands to the business; product/service, sales and marketing and finance and admin and that these three aspects cannot be done by the same person. We work with entrepreneurs and existing businesses but many lack one of these skills. There is a big opportunity for the over 50's to bring their skills to these entrepreneurs to build successful thriving businesses. The governments support for 'start up britain; support from job centre plus and other support organisations along with the fact that Enterprise Facilitation fits in with the 'Big Society' ideals of central government means that there are lots of opportunities for the over 50's. Enterprise Facilitation works already in many areas of the UK

  • Comment number 14.

    Agreed totally that the over 50s are getting a raw deal. This is in fact a very old problem - for decades, the largest single group of unemployed, as especially long term unemployed, has been older people. For political reasons, governments have chosen to concentrate on the younger element, thus making it that much harder for the rest to find work (many grants to organisations are only given when the younger unemployed are taken on).

    However, why did Panorama choose such a middle class and fussy bunch to highlight this problem? Historically, most of the older unemployed have been the unskilled and semi-skilled, and not these professional types. So their selection was odd. Furthermore, my guess is that they'll find work a lot quicker than the unskilled or semi-skilled who have always faced fierce competition (including from immigrants). Again, this lot aren't the sort of "emergency" cases that are of most concern because they could easily spend 10 years until their retirement signing on. Perhaps though they are easier for the reporters on Panorama to relate to?

    A second point. Only one from this group was even willing to move out of his/her comfort zone. They were applying for jobs within their old "skills set", a code for the same sorts of work they formerly had. This not only means they may take longer to get back into work, this is actually contrary to Job Seekers' Allowance rules, which stipulate that after a period of months, they must search for ANY type of work they could realistically do.

    This brings up the other point. Despite their cries of despair, they are still not willing to move out of this comfort zone and the higher status jobs that they used to do and still presumably expect to do. They are very fussy in the type of work they are even applying for. So this does moderate the sympathy we might otherwise feel for them.

    In the middle of their collective whinging, I felt like telling them to get over it and do something else, unless they're that sure they'll get something in their old line of work shortly (in which case, if they do, where's the problem?) Why are we expected to shed tears over their plights when the chances of their getting into similar work are a lot higher than others in the age bracket? One even turned down a job (NB. this is against JobCentre rules) because it was "beneath him."

    In other words, there is a national problem here that governments for years have swept under the carpet. But this bunch are really doing themselves no favours in their fussiness towards the jobs market, and if they're not prepared to pull out the stops and look for work elsewhere, why should we feel that they're getting such a raw deal?

  • Comment number 15.

    At 51 I had lost my business,my marriage and my home. I had lost my brother and my father to heart disease in the same short time, I became deeply depressed.....but like Mr Dyson with the picture framing business on the Panorama programme I "forgot who I had been" ...and took a job frying chips. I now am a manager/head chef with a good salary working for a fantastic progressive company..life is good again. Forget who you were....

  • Comment number 16.

    At 46 got made redundant for the 3rd time in 2 years yes it was a declining industry. i was married with an 8 year old daughter and had no qualifications but had worked my way up from a desk clerk to senior branch manager. what do i do? well people have to eat and people have to die i didn't want to become an undertaker so i went to work in food. yes i started again at the botton stacking shelves in a supermarket my salary dropped by 65% i had also lost my company car so had to buy one!.
    my marriage collapsed more to the fact of my drop in income and standard of living more than anything else. I have now been employed for over 8 years and i'm on the management ladder again (albeit at junior level ) because my experience has something to offer.
    there is life after being redundant at 50 but understand you skills may count for nothing just have swallow your pride and whether you like it or not start again.
    working is very important but it doesn't matter what you do so long as the grey matter is being challenged.

  • Comment number 17.

    Finished at 45 ?

    The programme rang many bells with me, still 5 years shy of fifty & unemployed for best part of a year now, with professional skills which are transferable. Every week I apply for 3-4 jobs, but interviews are far less frequent. I've been told my CV is good, but younger people with specialist skills are being preferred.

    We have children at school age and would rather stay in our area, building up one's own network and settling children in new surroundings takes time and energy.

    Some of my friends and former colleagues have similar stories to tell and we have a bit of a support network going. The loss of self-esteem is quite an issue, the hopelessness of the situation. I don't understand why they raised the retirement age when there is no work to be found !

  • Comment number 18.

    The Panorama story tonight will resonate with many over 50s who find themselves unemployed. Rejection is a terrible thing, but it can happen at any age - I would urge all over 50s who are unemployed to look at the skills they have that might be transferrable, do not be afraid to retrain or reskill, bite the bullet and accept a lower paid job - Harvey Jones is right it is important to keep busy and keep in the habit of working even if it is voluntary. Make connections in the community through the various networking business groups that exist and through community groups, and try not to be too downcast and stay positive...exercise eat well and laugh out lousd at least once a day!
    I speak from experience as my story is very similar to that of Lindy's in the programme tonight. Unlike her I have decided to reinvent myself and start my own cake making business which is slowly taking off after much effort on my part. I didn't expect to be doing this at my time of life, but now I am I am enjoying a new challenge and giving it my best shot. I have met some fantastic people along the way, and have really refocused my life since leaving the world of education - and do you know what Lindy? There is life outside the Local Authority....and it feels good!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    I've been made redundant at 62 so if the fifty year olds are having a problem what hope do I have.I have applied for numerous jobs including part time and what really annoys me is that 99% of the time you do'nt even get an a reply of your application.I feel in this day and age of e-mail applications that it should be made law that you should be sent a reply one way or another if your application stands any chance so that you do'nt waste time hoping for a reply so that you can at least look else where.
    As to our friend who is the Subpost master,I'ts nice that he is still working at 83 years old but volentary work does not pay the bills.So maybe IT's time he retired and let somebody else have his job as he's proberly getting paid a pension anyway and just being selfish.

  • Comment number 20.

    Add your comment I have just watched this programme and came in just after it had started who was the pompous man telling people to retrain after they have given 30 odd years of their lives to their career. It was clear that this man who had the cheek to tell one man to look at him when he was talking as if he was a naughty school boy.He did not seem to have no idea what it was like to be in the position of the people who have lost their jobs. This country is letting all sorts in and giving jobs and welfare to those who have given nothing to this country. Fortunately for now I am employed but the future is uncertain and being over 50 and watching younger people being employed and being given promotion over the heads of those that have trained them is a real confidence knocker. Why dont these politicians and fat cats that sit earning theirs thousands take a year out and put them selves in the shoes of those that are losing their jobs and homes through no fault of their own. It makes you sick to listen to people like the one on this show talking down to grown men and women who are obviously trying to get jobs but again are not being employed. This government need to start thinking in real terms and looking at real people and the people of this country who want to work for a real wage that will let them live the life they have put in years of hard work for.
    Its not fair that people from abroad are taking all the jobs our youngsters are trying to get a good education for. He even asked one man if he had thought of leaving the country and going abroad to work 'What a joker' He did like the limelight didn't he. He came across as a man who couldn't careless and that he was a I'm alright jack type of man. Why can't the government see what is happening.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a fifty-five year old made redundant at the end of the month I can really feel for the people featured in this programme. Ironically, my job, working for Business Link South East, was to work with Job Centre Plus customers who wanted to explore self-employment - but the plug has been pulled on that programme. A small amount of support that was available through Self Employment Credit has also been brought to an end. Your programme made a passing reference to the New Enterprise Allowance scheme, saying that this would give people going into self-employment up to £2,000 support. This scheme is currently being trialled in Merseyside and should be rolled out to the rest of the country over the next few months but there are still lots of questions:

    1. when will it be available across the country - what is the timetable for the roll-out?

    2. Who will provide business advice to JCP customers whi may never have been self-employed in the past?

    3. How much of the £2,000 support be available to sue to finance a new business venture?

    4.Will this money be in the form of a grant or a loan?

    5. Who will decide if any business plan is viable or not and allow a customer to move from JSA to NEA?

    And there are other questions too.

    All I know is that there will be an increasing number of 50+ joining the dole queue over the coming months and with a lack of suitable jobs they will look to self-employment as a route back to economic independence but the support they will need isn't there and I m not convinced that the New Enterprise Allowance scheme is the answer.

  • Comment number 22.

    Its all very well to advise people to reinvent themselves but once you have new skills you are then asked 'what experience do you have using these new skills?' Back to square one as nobody wants to give you experience,they all want you to have gained experience elsewhere.

    The Jobcentre Plus staff are smug and patronising telling you to look harder and consider new options. I recently applied to the Open University to do a course which would require 5-8 hours study a week, when I asked at the Jobcentre Plus about my fees being paid I was told doing this course would affect my availability to work and therefore the benefits I was eligable for. They seem to think you are available to work 24/7 and are owned by the state.

    We all want to work but there are too many of us chasing very few jobs. Reinvention is all very good it will work for a lucky few but not the vast majority of us.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sensitivity? He's heard of it! "Why don't you emigrate" sounds uncomfortably close to Norman Tebbit's infamous "get on your bike" to me!

  • Comment number 24.

    It may help over 50's (like me) to be aware of the following information:-
    ‘In the 2004 Enterprise survey of 20,000 employers in the UK, employers were most worried about lack of skills such as customer handling, problem solving and teamworking.
    In fact, research has shown that social and emotional skills had more correlation with success in the labour market than cognitive skills, IQ and formal qualifications’ (Cunha et al., 2005).
    2005 National Employers Skills Survey (the Learning Skills Council) Skills Lacking in employees - in order of importance
    1. Teamwork
    2. Customer-handling skills
    3. Technical & Practical skills
    4. Oral communication
    5. Problem-solving skills
    6. Written communication
    7. Management skills
    8. General IT user skills
    9. Literacy skills
    10. Numeracy skills
    The over 50's have developed these skills much more than the under 30's and may find applying this will help immensely. My website 'successfeelosophy' may help also.

  • Comment number 25.

    I watched the programme this evening and cannot believe how out of touch Digby Jones is talking about re-skilling like a preacher to his flock instead of asking questions and consulting
    i.e. Have you ever thought about re-skilling?
    Where do you think you would find the money to do this and still be able to afford to live at the same time? The man was broke he was having to give up his house. I bet he felt like Digby Jones was really helping him NOT.
    I have been out of work for a long period now and would love to re-skill but try to find funding for it when you are then putting yourself unavailable for work and you have to self fund the training. Do you know an electricians course is over £1500 per module
    Please do your research properly and find someone who understand and has a more sympathetic and consultative nature than Digby Jones

  • Comment number 26.

    I was wondering how many of those who are facing unemployment in their early 50's are those faced with the double whammy of hitting a recession twice in their lifetimes. As someone who completed their degree in 1983 and had a real struggle and many rejections to get into work I feel I've been fortunate so far to survive despite a threatened redundancy situation. It must be true that some of those from the early 80's who found it difficult to find work are faced with the same situation again. Though I agree Digby Jones could be seen as patronising I do think my early experiences of rejection and lack of jobs gave me a different attitude to work. I enjoy my job and get a lot out of work, but it doesn't define who I am and if I lost my job again it wouldn't be the end of my world - I'd just change direction again and curse the turn of political tides. Its no fun applying for job after job to be turned down repeatedly for jobs you know you could do, and I can really sympathise with those in the programme. I'm glad I'm not currently in that situation. My only advice would be try volunteering - it worked for me in my 20's - I gained not only self esteem and confidence but a sense of purpose and valuable experience which led to paid employment and skills and knowledge which I use in my work today.

  • Comment number 27.

    I was recently made redundant at the age of 59. I knew it was age/health related although the reason was 'disguised'. I do not qualify for my pension for almost two years. Neither can I get a bus pass - despite the lack of income. The job centre tells us that although ageism is illegal, is it rife. Lord Digby Jones would have us all retrain. I would like to see him be out of a job, with an employer's pension amounting to a few hundred pounds per annum. What would he do? I would like to talk to him and give him the real picture since he really is 'away with the fairies'. At no time did he mention one's self esteem and how demoralising it is to attend courses given by people in employment who have clearly few skills. I could correct most of the job adverts I see published since they are full of grammatical errors but no one seems to care about those standards any more.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sadly this programme provided only a flimsy investigation into a very serious issue. Putting aside the obvious distress of the interviewees and the challenges they were facing, the sight of a corpulent and self-congratulatory Digby Jones dispensing worthless and peurile advice was enough to make anyone realise just why our generation has been so poorly treated and mis-represented. I was made redundant 25 years ago, and as I approach 60, I know that my survival and revival has had little to do with the issues covered by this programme or the advice dispensed by such luminaries as Digby Jones and the lame excuse of a politician wheeled in to give the government point-of-view. As much as the temptation is to look for another job to replace the one you've just left, the hardest lesson to be learnt from redundancy in your 50's, is the recognition that a lifetime in employment has provided you with a range of skills and and expertise that many companies will want to buy. The real trick is not to look for another job, per say, but to figure out how to re-package and represent your skills and talent in a way which makes you buyable. The difference between being unemployed in your 20's is that you are looking for ways to sell yourself to an organisation. In your 50's it's all about making yourself buyable; and the really good news is that most people prefer the option of buying what they want that being given the hard sell for something they may be uncertain about.

  • Comment number 29.

    For me, one of the saddest parts of this documentary was hearing Chris Grayling as Minister of State for Work and Pensions spouting a naive response to Fiona Phillips about how the private sector would be taking up the slack from public sector reductions. If he really believes this - and he might, then he is in for a rude awakening. As a history graduate of Sidney Sussex, Cambridge with a career in TV production and communications consulting prior to becoming an MP it seems that once again the incumbent minister really does not know much about his field of responsiblity. Otherwise, how else could he make such a naive statement?
    What he says has some truth, but only when one is looking at a healthy recovery in the more normal business cycle. The problem for Mr Grayling is that he does not seem to have grasped that this is not a 'normal recovery'. The bullish news from the stock markets of London and New York have little to do with real economic recovery. Rather they are the product of extremely loose monetary policies on both sides of the Atlantic (particularly in the US) and hide or rather ignore the structural problems facing our economy. So long as relatively senior politicians continue to talk-up the recovery as if everything is normal, then they are not only deceiving themselves, but more seriously, they are deceiving their constituents and the people of this country.
    Unemployment is extremely sticky in this kind of situation. Although there are always exceptions, many companies have improved their P&L accounts by cutting costs over the past few years, largely by cancelling or reducting planned investments and of course by laying off people. The anaemic growth figures for the UK economy since 2009 hardly represent the kinds of robust growth one might normally expect coming out of a recession. Hence the idea that the private sector is going to be strong enough to absorb the kinds of numbers expected to be laid off in the public sector in the coming years is simply fantasy.
    At present, there is probably more chance of the economy going back into recesssion due to negative multiplier effects and the prospect of rising inflation and associated upwards pressure on interest rates than there is a strong recovery. As a result, many of the over 50s now being made redundant or already redundant are unlikely to find jobs available to them. By the time the economy does eventually get back to more normal growth, they are likely to be nearly a decade older and even less likely to find work.
    Ironically, if the UK keeps to its planned austerity measures it may well emerge as a much more vibrant economy later in this decade than many of its OECD competitors. However, that will be at a price. For those unfortunate enough to be made unemployed in their fifties or over, who are unable to 'reinvent' themselves due to the realities of their situation, then most would probably argue it is a price not worth paying.
    Of course at a macro level one can always take the Digby Jones advice as being wise and insightful and at one level it does make sense. However, the reality is that when people are made redundant and find themselves facing a pile of rejection letters and few interviews accompanied by zero job offers, then it tends to have a negative impact upon their self-confidence and self-esteem. This can play out in a viscious downward spiral, with each rejection further confirming the individual's sense of self-doubt. Often the status reflected in their prevoius job and its subsequent loss is a bitter pill to swallow. Depression and anxiety become characteristics of the individual's personality which itself begins to change. Those around and close to the individual may find it hard to cope with these changes and many relationships may be stretched to breaking point. If this happens, the individual sinks deeper into depression and self-doubt. Of course, in the worst cases, there is only one course of action left open to the individual who has lost all sense of self-worth, all hope of recovery and any sense of purpose.
    I do not wish to suggest that this bleak scenario is representative of the majority of people who are made unemployed. Rather, I merely wish to point out that the stigma of unemployment is not something that everyone can overcome with a smile and a retraining programme, particularly, if they are excluded from any form of financial assistance and are petrified that their entire world is about to collapse around them, as they witness their house being repossesed and the prospect of being homeless becomes a reality.
    This government seems to put great store in the panacea of 'entrepreneurism' and seems to think that a cheque for £2000 (if one is actually eligible) will put one on the road to riches. However, this again is hopelessly naive. Those who have successfully set up their own businesses and thrived represent an appallingly low percentage of the total number of start-up businesses. This is something that business school and economic statistics can support with empirical data. Therefore, it is another myth carried around by politicians and some business people that seems to suggest that 'we are all entrepreneneurs at heart'. The reality is that many people who have worked for a public sector employee for most of their adult life did it for a number of reasons, including job security, pension benefits, holidays, working conditions, etc. If they were the kinds of personality that desired to be 'out-there' doing business, then common sense would suggest that they would not have ended up working or at least staying in the public sector. This is not to suggest that these people are unintelligent or ungifted, but simply to recognise the fact that when a person is about ten years off retirement age and has followed a career in the public sector for most of their working life, expecting to work right up to retirement in their post, then simply to be told that they are 'out' and should take the self-employed route is a little out of touch with reality.
    So isn't it about time we got a few more politicians in power who actually understand the realities of the business world and some economics as well as a dash of social psychology, rather than spouting forth inaccurate mythologies? Now who is being naive? Mea culpa!

  • Comment number 30.

    Digby Jones was wide of the mark tonight.
    There are no jobs out there and the stats prove it. The construction industry both in the contracting and professional sectors has dropped 25% in the last two years. That is a huge slice of economic activity to lose.
    Matters are only going to be made worse when the full impact of the local authority cuts work their way through. You can argue about the size of the Govt sector but it is (was) a huge employer and even bigger customer for the private sector.
    Digby Jones spoke the usual rubbish about retraining.
    Has he not noticed the closure of further education colleges and the impossible odds and expense of getting into university.
    There is this strange belief that we can all start over and keep working into our seventies which is utter rubbish.
    Another pearl of wisdom from our Digby was to work for nothing.This where I thought he had really lost the plot.
    By all means put back something into society but not at the expense of a proper paid job. The chap from Shelter had the decency to looked embarressed but so he should. If they want professional advice they should expect to pay for it instead of exploiting the unemployed.
    For myself I hope to turn a hobby into a career in my sixties and I dont need a redundant member of the House of Lords to tell me how to do it

  • Comment number 31.

    Instead of Finished at Fifty - I started a new career at 53 having been unemployed for over a year I was determined to get going again and perhaps I got lucky,but I have been working for a leading supermarket for just over 6 months working as a driver.

    I am also fortunate that whilst I am contracted to 25 hours a week,I can work as many additional hours as I want.There is very little pressure compared to my previous career,I eat well,sleep well and enjoy getting out and about having previously worked in an office for over 30 years.

    The view from my van is like watching an episode of Countryfile everyday,the apple trees are in blossom,the pheasants are plentiful and the sight of many new born lambs brings a smile to my face everyday.

    I have never earned so little but lived so well.

    It is difficult finding employment after 50,what you find when you are not working is missing the involvement with people,forget what you have done or earned in the past if neccesary start at the bottom.

    Any job is better than no job and a good job is better than a bad one.

  • Comment number 32.

    Lord Digby Bloody Jones, says a lot doesn't he? Patronsing so-and-so! I wonder how he'd get on if his title was made redundant and the money the state pay for his upkeep was withdrawn? Would he relocate? Would he re-skill? As what, I wonder? A policitican? lol ! Don't make me laugh! This Government is hell bent on filling the job centre with its current wave of cts adn it will only continue to get worse.

    If the job market wasn't bad enough, it'll only be getting worse in the not too distant future. The job market for under 50's is just as bad - has anyone actually seen how amny real jobs are out there? If you're willing to work for minium wage (the worse thign that was ever devised!) then you're on to a winner - otherwise, forget it.
    I wonder if Lord Digby would reskill as a cleaner - there are a number of vacanices he could apply for.

    But to be fair, it's not ONLY the current Government to balme - ALL policiticans are at it. With their dodgy expense claims, over-inflated pay and lets not even talk about their pensions. They look after one another, always have, always will.

    As someone previously said, the 80's were bad but this is just as bad - is it any coincidence that it was the Tories in power then as well? If the Government want to amke cuts, I'm all for reducing the number of MPs, Councillors etc and as I'm in Scotland - what about abolishing the MSPs- what a waste of money they are!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Well done Panorama for highlighting the difficulties faced by unemployed over 50s, and I fully support the view that the contractors who will be partnering JobCentre Plus under the new Work Programme from this summer need additional incentives to help this customer group, otherwise they will simply be 'parked'.
    It was encouraging to see self-employment presented as a work option - business survival rates for over 50s are much higher than for younger people, and it's worth knowing that almost one-in-five working over 50s are self-employed.
    The national charity that I work for, PRIME, provides specialist help to enable unemployed over 50s to explore and understand what's involved in what for many is an unfamiliar and often scary choice. We have a range of support and information to help develop business ideas and create a sustainable business - have a look at www.primebusinessclub.com

  • Comment number 34.

    I watched the programme last night, and ended up frustrated at just how out of touch and superficial Lord Digby Jones was.

    Emigrate - yes, a possibility, one I investigated throughly having been made redundant 2 weeks after my 50th birthday. (3 years ago) All possible at a stretch, and then the practicalities kick in. The 50+ are also quite likely to have older parents. My wife is an only child and her mother, a widow, has Parkinson's disease. My father has never recovered fully from a cancer operation. Move the other side of the world?

    Relocate in the UK - I made a personal choice not to relocate , see above, but I have adopted an approach of looking everywhere, and being willing to live away from home in the week.

    Take a job at a lower level/ salary - great theory! Recruiters and companies don't get it. I am very fortunate in many ways in that previous planning, and taking lump sums from my pensions enabled me to pay off my mortgage all bar a small amount, meaning I could take less. Convicing prospective employers, or their agents, that you don't want to earn as much as you used to, and they think there is something odd. I went through 7 interviews, psychological, verbal and numerical reasoning tests, and a presentation for one job, was the last candidate standing, and in the end they went back to querying why I would take less, even though I proved I had all the skills they were looking for. In they end they appointed no one to the role.

    Retrain - yep - I have spent my career moving and developing new skills. Even recently I have undertaken a certificate of school governance, and been elected Chair of Govenors at a local school - but that doesnt pay the bills! A former colleague in the same predicament spent hard earned money getting new qualifications, only to find that then employers wanted people with a track record in that.

    Give up - No, even when there a days it feels impossible, and the world seems full of lazy recruiters who do not have the will or capability to put forward able candidates because younger is easier to sell.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am 57, I was made redundant when I was 56 by a large American multi-national. I have been working as a contractor off and on since then. I have had a few interviews for permanent positions and was even asked back for a second interview on several occasions, but I have not been offered any permanent positions in 12 months. I am in no doubt that most of the private sector discriminates against the over 50’s when appointing external candidates. I worked at a large banking organisation recently and 90% of the people in the call centre were under 40. If they appointed people without age prejudice the age of their workers would more nearly reflect the demographics of the working population. I want companies to be forced to publish the demographics of their employees, the demographics of the redundancies they make together with the demographics of successful and unsuccessful applicants. Then I when I am making purchases I will be able to discriminate against those companies that discriminate against the over 50's

  • Comment number 36.

    Sorry Fiona - the programme last night night was the most unfinished incorrect catalogue of errors I have ever watched. ( and Panorama is usually so informed)
    I am 60 this year and my husband and I lost our jobs 2 years ago, and I can tell you without doubt that older, more experienced people are being sadly overlooked in favour of younger applicants.Let me point out first Lord Digby Jones that you should have taken the time to get your facts correct before spouting your condescending incorrect useless information to 4 very fragile people. We know - we have tried - and you cannot get any form of re-training unless you have a promised job at the end of it - work that one out. The ret-training courses are very expensive and there is no funding out there anyway. My husband was even lead to believe he had been successful at one interview, he certainly had everything and more that they neede from an employee, only to find 4 weeks later; after chasing the office every week to ask what was happening, only to be told over the phone all that time later that they had had to give the job to another person - younger of course. You end up depressed and depleted, and in a very difficult position socially, financially, mentally and personally, often with only thoughts of suicide to end it all. And - I can promise you this - if it wasn't for the BBC cameras, none of these unemployed people would have been offered any work in the places shown - I can assure you. I am not an average person, and I have begged, borrowed and stolen to complete my training in Psychotherapy/Counselling, Clinical Hypnotherapy and now I am looking forward to finishing in Hypnobirthing. I have had lots of meetings in my area and I am marketing with all my energy to ensure classes, all with favourable feedback. I will help and support my husband, and he will do the same for me, and I will incude him in any business I succeed in, as I have done all my life. But it is not always like this for every over 50 unemployed, and my heart breaks for every story I read. You are out of touch and well uninformed. And - LOrd Digby JOnes - you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Helen

  • Comment number 37.

    If people think it's hard being unemployed when you're 50, try it when you're 63.

    I was made redundandant in 2007, as a result of the previous government's financial restructuring. I'm fortunate in that I get a small pension and the mortgage is all but paid off so I don't have to depend upon what the DWP chooses to pay me, but since 2007 I've only managed to find low-paid work or short-term contracts in my own profession.

    What the programme addressed very well was the demoralisation of those who had had successful careers but were now out of work. Part of me feels I'll never work again and I find it hard to motivate myself to apply for work.

    My own profession? I am a qualified careers adviser with over 10 years experience of working with unemployed adults. In 2006 the Department of Work and Pensions gave me an award for my work with disabled adults and when inspected my work was always classified as "excellent."

    "Lol" as the young people say these days!

    As for Digby Jones' contribution, the world is full of unqualified careers advisers.

    Nuff said.

  • Comment number 38.

    As sent to Digby’s PA last night


    Please thanks Lord Digby-Jones for his very useful advice to the over 50s on Panorama tonight which I think can be summarised as follows:

    • Retrain and become a plumber/joiner/bricklayer – all trades that have seen a downturn; don’t worry about the time it will take to retrain or the cost involved.
    • Do voluntary work to maintain the “work ethic” - don’t let your dwindling finances put you off
    • Travel in the UK or even emigrate – where your skills and experience might be valued
    • Accept that you are destined to only find menial paid work for the rest of your working life
    • Don’t undersell your services if you decide to go it alone – there is nothing worse than a busy fool
    • But look me in the eye and keep smiling!

    If I missed anything no doubt he will let me know.

  • Comment number 39.

    Are any of the programme makers reading this blog? will we see any response in our future? to any of the comments on the board?

  • Comment number 40.

    I must admit I found the program a little disturbing, well not so much the program, more the people featured in it. I am 60 and having worked all my life I HAVE learned many useful lessons. I am now self employed I have embraced flexibility, have thrown out any pretentions, expectations, and percieved standards.this means I can and do earn a good living. There is work out there, probably not what you are used to doing so be flexible, forget your past jobs and incomes they only hamper you. This World is changing faster and faster and you have to be able to do the same or you will be left behind. Take on new and different challenges, take that van drivers job, put on an apron and work for the local D.I.Y store, cut grass, clean toilets...anything for these changes will open up other opportunities which you might be able to make a business of
    ...Yes... I have been made redundant... yes I have had financial problems...yes I have been divorced...yes I have suffered a serious illness
    ...but Im still working..still.earning...still enjoying what I do..stop waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel, walk down there and grab it!

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with Simon (post 35) employers should be forced to publish the demographics of their employees. I too would then be better placed to make an informed decision as to whether I should purchase from an organisation in the same way that I make choices in a supermarket about buying fresh produce that is home grown rather than imported from the other side of the world.

    As far as I am aware there is an obligation on employers for the sex and ethnicity of their workforce to reflect the demographics of that area so may be this should be expanded to include age.

    I know from previous experience (when I worked as a PA for a man who was just over 50 who could not wait to retire!) that some over 50's can become parochial and set in their ways but it would be unfair to apply these labels to everyone in that age group. Recruitment agencies and employers should look further than a few wrinkles, grey hairs and large numbers when trying to fill a position and try to get to know the person involved - they may just be surprised!

    I am lucky, employed and happy.

    As regards the programme itself I know that it has provoked discussion, and must be regarded as a success in that regard, but I feel that there was insufficient substance to it to be of any help to those aged 50+ who have a lot to offer. I think that Lord Digby-Jones should get closer to and understand the real issues of how it feels to apply for literally hundreds of jobs with sometimes not even an acknowledgement of the application let alone an interview for then he may be better placed to comment on the plight of others.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am also 53 yrs old and find myself in the same category as many others my age, was made redundant twice and since then I have applied for so many positions it is unbelievable, very rarely get a reply back, I also have my daughter at university, I feel a total failure and like the others do not know what to do next, I have been on the programmes that the jobcentre sends you too, but they are a complete waste of space and do not do anything for you, never had an interview from them, why do they all think we are finished by the time you get in your 50's I have alot to give. A mature person with alot of experience and want to work. Watching the Panorama programme last night it bought it all back how I feel I will not give up, it is true it is age discrimination and we are getting no help whatsoever, living of jobseekers allowance is demoralising and extremely tight, why will the government not listen, it is not only the younger generation that are getting attacked.

  • Comment number 43.

    What a let down. A lightweight report on a heavyweight issue, which totally missed the main problem.

    * Who decided that Digby Jones was the right person to comment, his comments were patronising , naive and straight out of a Jobcentre script. It was like he thought he was handing down divine guidance instead of a load of amateurish pap.

    * The major problem for 50+ jobseekers is - Recruitment Consultants.

    * 99% of vacancies are handled by these people now, employers have abdicated responsibility for the process.

    * Having got arms-length plausible deniability, employers can now pay lip service to age equality whilst letting their consultants continue to discriminate as they always have done.

    * Recruitment consultants will not put forward 50+ candidates for interview because it is not a quick and easy way to get their commission.

    * RC want to put in the minimum of work to tick a few boxes and send a few safe bets to the employer. This is not the same as giving the employer a choice of the best candidates.

    * RC actively promote age discrimination, I have received it in person from them.

    * RC are lazy, inexperienced and incompetent, and rarely understand their client's business, let alone the finer details of the vacancy being advertised.

    * RC post non-existent jobs as a CV fishing expedition.

    * RC never ever call you back, give feedback or answer even simple questions that you ask.

    * RC lie to you so much that they can't even remember their own lies.

    As for the Jobcentre, forget it. A classic example of tick box mentality taken to insane levels of idiocy.

  • Comment number 44.

    I am Trevor from Kilmarnock. I left school at 15 and became a TV engineer which was all I ever wanted to do from an early age, I eventually had my owm business after working with multi nationals and Sony.
    Due to Cheap imports from China and the likes of Tesco my business went down, this was in 2006, I lost my house and was bankrupt. I started fitting window blinds for a few months and eventually got a job with a friend that owned a company repairing industrial pressure washers. I was 52 at the time. I lasted a year doing this very heavy job then was stricken down with heart troubles, I had quite a bit of time off ill but I did get back to do 4 days a week then eventually 5 days, it was always a struggle with pain and days off due to regular angina attacks. They got quiet last year and I was paid off. The stress though made me ill again and my GP signed me off, I have had numerous visits to hospital recently. I am on "work & Support allowance" so am treated as a sponger, which is total rubbish.
    I had the medical and was told I was fit to work, I even had a really bad angina attack during the test but the "doctor"?? didn't care.
    I of course appealed and am waiting for it to be heard.
    I do want to work but not in heavy industry it would kill me. I am nearly 57 and send off CV's all the time to jobs I think I could handle but as soon as they know you have a heart condition you never hear a word.
    What real help do you get? In my experience none you are just treated like rubbish. I have a C&G and an HNC in electronics but at 57 no one wants you.
    Fiona and the team remember doing charity or unpaid work costs you, what about Bus fares or petrol, lunches, clothing when you are not working, where does the money come from?
    By the time I re-train yet again I will be 59 and that is assuming I am fit, no one will want me as although I may have re-trained I have no experience of the job at that age.

    We need proper help not what's happening now.

  • Comment number 45.

    I watched this programme last night and felt very depressed. I am 55, and 2 years ago retrained as a librarian. I secured a position as a subject librarian at a university, but because of the cuts my contract was not renewed. I believe I am in a good position to find work as it was only 2 months ago I was made redundant,I have already got that elusive 'first post' and this is a sector that seems to value maturity. However, the comments in the programme seem to throw a shroud over my ambitions, and the dead hand of futility is very hard to shake off. I had a very miserable night. But now I feel angry, and not just with Digby -Jones. The skills and experiences of so many of us are hard won and personally I will put every last bit of my energy into refusing the future that was being mapped out last night. I owe this to myself and my wife. Let us not devalue ourselves through this tough time, because employers will pick up on that even at the application form stage. The thing about being in our fifties is that we have a great deal of strength upon which to draw if we can let ourselves, and we have to show it to others, especially those we love who are affected by our situation. Remember also that there is no such thing as a redundant person: the person carries on even if the job doesn't. So, please Panorama: can we have some sort of balance? Can we have an examination of actual and psychological strategies so we may realize our strengths? I don't think we need to be told any longer how bad things are.

  • Comment number 46.

    This programme and Digby Jones' attitude made my blood boil! Why should people with more than 30 years valuable experience and skills be told that they should retrain in 'plumbing' or 'picture-framing' or lower their salary expectations when there are clearly lots of jobs out there in their chosen industries? The issue wasn't the availability of those jobs, it was the fact that younger people are being interviewed for those jobs to the exclusion of older people. If Digby Jones had told newly qualified graduates to lower their expectations or change careers to the abandonment of their training, there would have been uproar!

    Age discrimination is illegal and employers are no longer allowed to ask your age but they get round this by asking for dates of secondary or further education. Even if you are lucky enough to gain an interview, younger people are selected because the young managers conducting the recruitment are often intimidated by the experience of older people and feel they can manage people younger than them more easily.

    The only way the Government can counteract this imbalance is to go further with the legislation and force companies to take on a percentage of older workers, in the same way that they must ensure an ethnically diverse percentage of their workforce. If the UK demographic is that 45% of the population is over 50 (and this is increasing) then businesses must reflect this in their workforce and Government must ensure that this happens by creating laws to make it so.

    Experienced and qualified people over 50 do not need to be retrained or lower their expectations into accepting lower salaries or lower grade positions - they need to be given the chance to compete fairly in the recruitment process and the Government needs to examine the current system and introduce lawful changes to make sure this happens.

    Older workers are often strong, fit, smart, professional, flexible and an asset to any business. They are not likely to need career breaks to bring up a young family, have more patience and can adapt to situations because they are experienced and mature. What a waste that they are not being properly utilised in UK businesses.

  • Comment number 47.

    Like most of your contributors, I was made redundant at the end of 2009 after twelve years service, aged 56. First sign of immanent redundancy was when my original employer was “merged and acquired” but with the promised that “your job was secured.” Smooth transition to new owner’s premises and systems changes but once things were up and running, I lost my job due to “business reorganisation.”
    I only got JSA for six months due to my wife full time employment and was told I am not entitled to any other benefits. I strongly believe this is very unfair as I have always been paying my dues since I started working in 1976 whilst others who have not contributed at all are better catered for. Jobcentre staff does not have the experience and qualification to properly assist job seekers, void of any information with regards retraining and employability programmes. Reason is most of them are previous job seekers themselves given temporary contract for administration roles only to get claimants to sign.
    I am an able bodied person desperately wanting to work, apply to approximately ten or more jobs on a weekly basis only get rejections or worse non-response to my job applications for position I have all the relevant skills and experience to match. I have also applied for other positions unrelated to my previous skill set such as supermarket in-store vacancies (different shifts), catering assistant, assistant social worker, administrative position within the NHS and colleges to mention a few.
    My original CV listed all my previous roles which I am proud of only to be told to cut it down or mention only last ten years. I do not believe in having to hide your career achievements. When I have been invited to an interview, it is usually with a younger panel reading questions from a prepared manual, I already guessed the outcome. However the thing that gives your age away is when they take a copy of your details in your passport as evidence of your right to work in the UK. This should only be provided at the job offer stage.
    I will persevere in my job search, apply and go on funded training courses to improve my employability but government and employers must also provide a level playing field for job opportunities for the over 50s.
    We are a loyal and dedicated work force with proven skills, experience and capability to do the job, make a positive contribution and will stay. We deserve to be given a second chance.
    I do not wish to comment on MR DIGBY JONES

  • Comment number 48.

    I am 49 years old and like most people in my aged +, I have a wealth of experience to share. So this year 1st January, I decided to set up my own business to give me the flexibility of working for myself and also providing me with time to raise my children as I am also a single older mum with two young children aged 9 and 11. Since January things have not been easy as I expected working for myself, but I am determined to make it work.
    I would definetly be one to employ people 50+ because of the wealth of experience and expertise that we have. Life or employment does not stop at 50 it ony begins.

    I want to see more opportunity and help for us if we want to start up our businesses and our age should not be a barrier to any job.

    It's so fuuny at times, as when you are young employer's say you have no experience, when you are older, they say you have too much experience.

    Anyhow, my frineds, do not loose hope, stay positive, determined and confident.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm in my late 40's and been unemployed 15 months after being made redundant (I've applied for over 500 jobs and been for 22 interviews - offers non!)

    Lord Digby tends like the sound of his own voice. He addressed the jobless people on this show as being unmotivated. I would say to Lord Digby and all the other people that think unemployed people are not motivated or lazy - try applying for 500 jobs and then tell how much work and motivation is required for that. It's a full time job looking for a job; it's on your mind all the time you're awake and at times it can wake you up thinking and worrying about it. It takes super motivation and characture to hang in there as a 'long term unemployed' person.

    There are jobs out there, but the general recuitment process is 'not working'. I believe that many of the people carrying out or involved in the selection processes are pleasing themselves and follow their own agendas. Most of the interviews I've been to are purly to fill a gap and make the numbers up; I believe the jobs have already been marked for who-ever and I stood no chance of getting the job anyway. I believe people 'can not' be trusted in this very competive situation to be fair and honest!

    Also, I'm sick of hearing it's not what you know, it's who you know! I believe this is why the system is so currupt in the first place!

  • Comment number 50.

    The key is to be flexible and imaginative. I was made redundant at the age of 60 after 15 years in my accounting job and since then have been working freelance and now have 3 clients. I also started training as a counsellor when I was 56 and am about to qualify and begin a new career at the age of 61. A friend began a new career in her 60s as a Marriage Celebrant and another, made redundant at 60 after a career as an advertising art director has been working as a painter and decorator and has now started a dog-walking business. Redundancy can be a blessing in disguise and give you the opportunity to do something completely different!

  • Comment number 51.

    I thought that Fiona Phillips behaviour on this programme was breathtaking. She opened the programme by boasting she had plenty of work! Talk about a lack of sensitivity. She was a poor choice for the show.....

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    As an unemployed person I have had much time to reflect on the situation I'm in. My approach is to find people who have succeeded in the quest, to learn how they did it! After reading all the blogs there is little to indicate that there is a way out for all but the few. But there are three good leads!

    I have also observed that I have been wrong in my basic life assumptions. I have no right to a job. I thought that society was about community, i.e. what I put in was a reserve for when I need to take out, so my financial input would give me benefits when I needed them. But rather than a cash reserve, the governments of all parties have just spent it, and are in fact are so in debt that they can't even offer a soup kitchen. It's a good job I have a pension fund that I control.

    To add insult to injury I am now required to sign on every day. I travel in on a bus, spend 5 mins with a member of the DWP and then take the bus home. To date no one can tell me how this increases my chances of getting a job? Or when it will stop?

    Before C'mass I had to do 1 months mandatory work related placement (MWRP). Stacking shelves in a retail store. It cost the store nothing but they got a member of staff for free, cover for the three on maternity leave. I thought slavery had been abolished? All the temporary work around C'mass was filled with MWRP people! To add insult to injury the DWP Training budget was raided to cover the cost! £240. But the value to the employer was £720. But since I have savings I get no benefit! Needless to say I gained no training what so ever! People don't realise that the minimum wage does not apply to DWP schemes, so for the weekly benefit money you can be forced to work 40 hours a week! Not what you would expect from a Lab government! Yet to see what the Con/Lib propose.

    So to be positive, what have I learned! I have spent the time educating myself. I am becoming more politically active and forming alliances with people in the same predicament. The only solution is that resources need to be re-allocated. Businesses are making profits by making the state supply benefits. At the same time Business does not pay for the social infrastructure, roads, education, health etc, but certainly benefits from it! The irony is that people, through their pensions, life insurance and mortgages, own these companies. Perhaps with all this spare time I should go to more AGM's and make proposals to make them more socially accountable. My councilors and my local MP are certainly going to know my views on issues that effect me!

    Perhaps a radical idea, but why don't we stop people working more than 4 days a week. On the other day they have to do voluntary work for nothing! If you don't you have to go to prison! By the way this includes MP's and Judge's

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm 52 out of work and trying everything to get a job without success.

    I know how Sharon feels as I can see myself homeless in the not to distant future if nothing turns up. I will have gone from earning a very very good salary to living on the streets and I'm not sure I can bear that.

    The job centre has nothing for me, I've been a manager for ove 30 years and now cant even get a call centre job.

    The programme has really depressed me, though I was coping ok, but after waching the show. I'm begining to doubt myself.

    The government does not care - where do we go - all those years of paying significant taxes do not count for anything as suddenly i'm not eniltled to anything and no one is there to care !

  • Comment number 55.

    Finished at 50? Not a chance. I've got a 'Fresh start at 50'. (52 actually) It is hard work reinventing yourself, especially when you have worked yourself up a long way in your profession. Exciting. Risky. Terrifying. At least now I am master of my own destiny, and although I'm not making much money yet, I have learned so much since I set up working on my own. I have met so many new people and have had the opportunity to do things I would never have dreamed of doing a few years ago.

    To respond to some of the points made in the programme, yes I am volunteering, and yes I am doing Pro Bono work to help establish my reputation in a new field. Yes I am retraining. I am mid-way through training as a counsellor, a job that apparently is needed as new policies are to increase talking therapies. The course I am doing requires another approx £2000 next September - so I suspect I will have to drop out as I can't pay that big a lump out of my pocket now as I am self-employed and only just getting by. Yes, I would be happy to work just about anywhere, including abroad, should anyone employ me there. As for selling myself short, it is better to earn some money than no money when there are bills to be paid!

    Interesting comments from contributers above. There are a lot of people who are as passionate as I am about the need to utilise the skills and experience of all the thousands of people who have been cast out of the workforce. How can I support other people who have had their lives shattered by redundancy?

  • Comment number 56.

    A very disappointing programme which failed to address the major problems experienced by the over 50's that are out of work. But one of the main problems is that the government have absolutely no idea of how many people of our age group are not in work because once you have enough credits for your National Insurance and you are no longer eligible for Jobseekers Allowance, that's it, you arent on any records as being unemployed. I cannot claim any benefits because my partner works and we have modest savings. So what am I supposed to live on? I get so annoyed because I had been in work since I was 15 paying taxes and NI and was made redundant when I was 58. Yes I have done temp work since then in a completely different environment but that went due to cutbacks and yes I have tried to run my own business without a great deal of success and am now at a loss as to what to do next. There are many people like me and in my opinion this is a time bomb that will explode as many more people will find themselves in the same position. Where is the sanity of increasing the pension age for people over 50 who have paid into the system for nearly 40 years when there are no jobs out there for them? There is nothing wrong with trying to get the young into employment but we need the older, experienced workforce there as well to train and nuture these youngsters.

  • Comment number 57.

    Post 39 - the answer is probably "no". I attended a workshop on social media as part of my reskilling, and a guy from the BBC who was also there as good as said that no account of posts/ blogs/ Twitter is taken, even if it is overhwhelming such as the controversial storyline on Eastenders over Christmas. Letters are their key measure, perhaps they need some reskilling and waking up to 21st Century?

    Post 50 - I do not disagree compeletely with what you are saying, but personally I am not ready to give up the buzz and excitement of thinking and doing to go dog walking, when I reach 70 maybe!

  • Comment number 58.

    Oh poor you, this coming from the people who've remortgaged their houses and been driving round in flash cars for the last ten years. If you've been living beyond your means in the good times then what do you expect? Your generation created this mess, now accept it.

  • Comment number 59.

    What a poorly researched and presented programme. You had the pompous Digby telling someone to retrain as a plumber/carpenter etc! He clearly doesn't know that colleges and less honest institutions, frequently tout such courses which rarely have a practical element or job related training, resulting in poorly educated persons leaving such courses, after a few weeks, with delusions of finding employment as a carpenter etc. The colleges take the money and turn out people that are not safe or knowledeable enough to be let loose in someones' household. A proper training period was a four year apprenticeship before Thatcher came along and destroyed the apprenticeship system that had encouraged and subsidised small firms to take on apprenticeships. The smug Digby clearly has no idea of what is involved in vocational training and patronisingly assumes such "trades" can be picked up via a short course !

    The programme researchers should be fired for such lamentable efforts at "fact finding." Opinions and comment were confined to government persons such as Digby et al! No researcher approached members of small firms for their opinions on Digbys' pontification, or for their comments on re-training older people in vocational skills - carpentry etc. The fact that building firms had laid off large numbers of skilled plumbers and carpenters was not mentioned - no doubt small firms could have helped the researcher here. Perhaps Fiona could have discussed with Digby the problems with raising the retirement age resulting in the over 50's receiving unemployment pay for longer since jobs for over 50's -let alone the over 60's-are as rare as hens teeth !
    Such programmes are no longer well researched or well rounded. It seems a few slim fragments of fact are taken up and spun into a dumbed down version of "investigative reporting." How long before newspaper investigative reporting sinks to a similarly low level as that occupied by Panorama? Panorama, a programme that now relies on sound bites rather than well researched, fleshed out, balanced facts.

  • Comment number 60.

    Thanks for all your comments so far.

    We have compiled a list of organisations which can help with issues relating to age and employment that we hope may prove useful.

    The list can be found on the Panorama site here - https://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9447000/9447850.stm

    Best wishes

    The Panorama Team

  • Comment number 61.

    Why on gods earth is that gurning, hand wringing, insincere, poor me, my dads ill, I'm down, I'm overworked (yeah right) Phillips women back on our screens??

  • Comment number 62.

    Well it seems we're all fired up with nowhere to go, but do we really expect anything but the response we saw from the rich Digby and the Tory Minister. They are simply out of touch with the reality. I was appalled at D-J's suggestion to emigrate, this is my country why should I leave - or is it to make room for more economic migrants from the EU? Ageism is rife in the recruitment sector but they won't admit it. Comments were made about the youthfulness of interviewers and prospective employers. Let's face it when we turn up with all our experience, possibly qualifications too, they're scared of losing their jobs to us. Two examples I've had show this blatantly. The first is when I was asked why I applied for the job when I was so obviously 'over-qualified' - it was to be part of a team in a department I was capable of running. Secondly was when I received a rejection letter stating I did not have the qualifications for the job - actually I was more qualified than the manager and probably his managers too. I'm not after anybody's job at the top, been there and done it. Retrain, reinvent? done that too more than once. All I want, as do most people here, is to be a productive member of society again. Our age group has so much to offer is it too much to ask to be allowed to give it?

  • Comment number 63.

    58 James
    Who are you talking to?
    I've never re-mortgaged my house, had a flash car or lived beyond my means. I did not create this mess - I'm just a victim of it.

  • Comment number 64.

    Digby Jones made the best positive contribution he could towards people over age 50 trying to find work on this Panorama programme. There is no easy solution to finding work at age 50 plus.

    I went back to University at age 58 and enrolled for an MBA at Leeds University Business School for a full-time degree course, which cost well over £15,000 in fees.
    I was the oldest student on the course by at least 15 years-it was tough just to get selected.

    I still found getting interviews a problem once I qualified. Still no job offers.

    I have since enrolled on a Research Degree but stopped this because at age 61 I found that the cost would never have been paid back with the short working life remaining and because academics are a snotty lot even when you do have an MBA. Most have never ever done a days work outside of academia. [Business School academics are rather different however, being more practical by nature].

    One suggestion is that you adopt a hard nosed attitude with HR Managers and Directors that either refuse you an interview or pass you over when you know you are qualified and suited to a job. They hate getting people query why they have not been interviewed or short-listed and are fearful that you may report them to a tribunal. Try it, you may be surprised how they react to this. Many know they have unfairly discriminated against applicants.

    I am now involved in politics and have stood in elections both as an MP and as a Councillor. I have a background in consultancy and can contribute on a broad front
    because of my broad skill set.

    The challenge is to make contacts as this is a sure way to find out about both jobs and consultancy assignments. Remember, the recruitment consultants also have to find assignments.

    God luck!
    My last full-time job was age 50 as a Managing Director. I produced some outstanding results and launched a new venture that was profitable in its first year

  • Comment number 65.

    Why does the BBC always seem to choose people like Lord Digby Jones to tell us how to find a job? His title 'Lord' would imply someone who has never applied for a job in his life. He seems to pompously and condescendingly hand out advice, none of which he would ever take for himself. MPs are asking us to all volunteer, yet it always makes me wonder how many of them would or have ever volunteered for anything. Their expenses are now higher than before the expense scandal. Those who rule our lives never walk in our shoes.

  • Comment number 66.

    I was featured in the BBC1 programme 'Workers at War - Wanted' way back in 1999 when my jobsearch was contrasted with three younger people just starting their careers.
    I left a senior sales manager position in financial services at age 48. I spent two years applying for jobs and being rejected. I finally went temping and at one company I was offered a permanent role as a call centre person after one week. Two years later that business moved to Birmingham and I was threatened with redundancy again.
    Luckily the Group had a redeployment unit and they offered me a role as a redeployment consultant helping people find replacement jobs in the business when their job was 'managed out'. So after 5 years I'd got back to about halfway up the greasy pole from where I left in '96. Five years followed trying to shoehorn people into jobs they didn't want or watching people go who were desperate to stay. I'd had enough and opted out into retirement at 58.
    Now 5 years later I've applied to work part time at two branches of a well known upmarket grocery chain and been rejected both times. Apparently I'm incapable of even stacking shelves at 63.
    So, this 'over 50' issue isn't new, despite legislation and publicity things just get worse. It seems the HR and recruitment industries are totally ineffective in improving the situation for older workers, whereas over the same period, the environment for pregnant mothers and younger women in general has been transformed. I wonder why?

  • Comment number 67.

    I do hope that Panorama re-visits the subject of finding work at age 50 plus.

    It would be especially helpful if some success stories could be screened to help build morale with the age over 50 job-seekers.

    One of the things people age over 50 have to grasp is that the work culture we enjoyed as young men and women no longer exists like it did in our twenties and thirties, our fathers and grand fathers would never recognise how we work today. People in those age groups will find getting work difficult today whereas we generally did not. Remember the UK economy has changed markedly and ethics no longer exist the way they did thirty and forty years ago.

    Loyalty toward employees is no longer offered by organisations and in turn companies cannot expect it to be given in return. The tribunal has replaced the trust that once existed between many employees and the firms they worked for.

    Too many jobs in the manufacturing sector have gone abroad to China and the Far East. Manufacturing here today tends to be high-level technology intensive and project driven.

    Globalisation has not helped the UK economy as regards job opportunities as so much industry has either closed down or moved abroad.[We import consumer goods now with a high value-added ie. high retail margin formula] Our policy in the UK toward having a minimum wage level has, in part, accelerated this trend. China, India and the Far East generally have very low wage rates compared with the UK; except places such as Japan which has also had economic problems for at least the last decade.

    I do not think that the politicians can come up with a solution. We need a lot more jobs in the UK, these can only be created by stimulating the private sector to grow more rapidly. Politicians do not have a track record of doing this very well.[the rapid growth of the financial services sector tends to get used against them]

    The challenges facing the world's biggest economy - the USA - are even greater than those of the UK, with one difference, age is not a big factor in the US economy. Why? Because the average age of workers in the US is even higher than in the UK [with the post-WW2 population bulge]. In the US many people work into their seventies provided they are fit enough to do so. Perhaps the reason for this is that age legislation has existed in the US for over forty years.

    I have worked in US-owned organisations where the Presidents, Chief Executive Officers, Vice-Presidents and so forth - right through the whole structure could be in their sixties to mid-seventies, a far better balance than in most UK companies.[but not in the UK-divisions of US companies]

    The solution might be to abolish a standard retirement age completely in the UK, relying on health and continued ability as the final decider on whether to remain in work. This must surely come about here in the UK [and elsewhere in Europe] as average life expectancy accelerates so rapidly.

    I shall be age 64 in just over a month's time and I continue with the cognitive agility I had thirty years ago, with an MBA achieved at age 60 at a Russell group University to prove it!. One must adapt to the challenges brought on by a very different economy and with it an altered society in today's world.

  • Comment number 68.

    i worked in the rail industry for 30years plus until redundencys .most of the companies i have applied to work as a train driver are subsidised private companies .the goverment have the lever to insist on employing the over 50s.that being the removle of the subsidy.also we need some prosecutions for discrimination through ageism to change employer attitudes.AGEISM IS MORE RIFE THAN RACEISM BUT IT IS HARD TO PROVE EMPLOYERS SHOULD PRODUCE A RECRUITMENT LIST TO A BODY CAPABLE OF STAMPING OUT AGEISM

  • Comment number 69.


  • Comment number 70.

    I've sometimes thought that companies should be made to publish the age profile of their staff matched to the age distribution in the country. That would show up who is and isn't employing their share of both younger and older people.

  • Comment number 71.

    The show said the blatantly obvious. Lord Digby Jones was patronising and glib. Look me in the eye and why not at 57 retrain as a plumber. Interesting as the construction and building industry is in freefall and plumbers are a plenty. Also 60 year old plumbers from middle managers. I was a Solicitor for sixteen years specialising in commercial law and small businesses. My career was curtailed by a breakdown but here we are. I waited for some lateral thinking such as looking at the assets people have real and personal. People could sell their houses and move into a business with accommodation. They should be more daring as we are on the scrap heap, no one wants us and well they would like us to deplete the surplus population and save on pensions. We have hundreds of thousands of people with billions of capital and potential loaning with talent and ability.

    The show also showed people in depression hence the not looking Digby Jones in eyes. The only other thing about the people was the lack of support from the men's partners. Andrew's wife had not noticed him crying and being in depression Ian's marriage broke down because he could not support his family he told the Daily Mirror. Great stuff twenty to thirty years of support and bill paying now he is not the man I married. No he has not got a well paid job what a disgrace. It cheered me as I thought it was only my partner who forgot the poorer in richer and poorer and bailed. Good luck but don't try to hard or worry too much, in the long run as John Maynard Keynes said we are all dead.

  • Comment number 72.

    I wrote an earlier comment (28) on the appalling treatment of such an important topic. 43 comments on, and after a total of 71 comments, it strikes me that the Panorama team now have sufficient material from a quality audience to finally do this topic justice. So I challenge you at Panorama to look at the quality of individual responses provided and create an hour-long programme using the contributors to this blog. After all, you owe it to us, as license payers and by default, shareholders, in the BBC, to have our say. This shouldn't prove insurmountable, since reality programming now seems to be standard fayre in the world of 'economy broadcasting'; or do I perhaps overstep the mark into the murky world of ageism in broadcasting, by suggesting programming involving the over fifties ? Something for which the BBC has already paid a heavy price. It remains to be seen whether or not you will have sufficient courage or commitment to see this through. However, given your previous track record, I suspect that even you will consider this too hot a topic to handle.

  • Comment number 73.

    58 James - I am sure at some point you will appear on TV as the new Digby -Jones. Out of touch with reality and making bland statements without knowing the facts - Like 63 I have never remortgaged my house, had a flash car, or lived beyond my means - and just have to cope with the consequences of the world we all live in.

    Charles (74) is right - come on Panorama, have a proper go at the subject?

    An idea struck me last night - why not start a recruitment company aimed at the over 50's, selling our skills into companies. My wife's response - not sure you will earn much, maybe not, but you would have the evidence to suggest ageism is rife, and if it doea work I get the flash car!

  • Comment number 74.

    I am 54 and lost my job in September. I watched the programme with disgust at Digby Jones' patronising comments. Telling people to emigrate? This is an admission that our own country does not want or need us any more. Telling people to move? Yes, could be a good idea, but it overlooks the fact that many people in this age group still have kids at school - as a divorced parent, I do not have the freedom to take my kids miles from their father or overseas. Retrain - yes, perhaps a good idea, but it also overlooks that fact that if you decide to retrain, that is effectively at the same time deciding you have thrown away all your 30 years or so of experience in your field to start from scratch. No wonder people keep on tring to use their skills in the same or a similar field. The assumption that a professional person could of course get a less skilled job is also false, as you are seen as overqualified. I have applied for jobs as washer up, etc, to no avail. Transferrable skills - yes, but there are hundreds with the same idea going for each job. I have managed to get a couple of interviews, where I was interviewed by people younger than me who asked me questions about my ability to manage the most basic tasks in my field - higher ed teaching - that I have top level skills in. When the interview is terminated before its allotted time, you know you have not been considered seriously. The reality is that people do not want to supervise someone who is more experienced at their job than they are and so won't take you on. I have been beaten to jobs by people who were not born when I started teaching - who have no experience, and who therefore cannot possibly be made out to be better than me - when this happens once, it's bad luck, when it happens over and over, you cannot deny the pattern. I registered self-employed and am cobbling together a living doing tutoring at the rate of pay for postgraduates who are not yet qualified. My current plan is to leave the country for work when my daughter leaves school - when I will be 60. Great Britain, thanks for nothing.

  • Comment number 75.

    #58 James

    The reason why your comment is invalid is precisely the reason this topic is being debated.

    The over 50s are being stereotyped.

    How can you possibly accuse a whole generation of being responsible for creating the present economic mess?

    The world of work in which we functioned [as over 50s] used to be an ordered and generally well disciplined environment. It is the generations that have followed that accept lower standards of behaviour from both employees and employers: I suggest that it is the quality of much of modern management that is rubbish. Why else do so many employment disputes end up in a tribunal?

    What is evident is that we all have to be thicker skinned and prepared to do battle for what we want out of life today.

    Write to your MP if you feel indignant about the injustice of your own employment rights. I have had an excellent response from our elected representatives over the years and have even had a Secretary of State [Hilary Benn] visit our group of job-seekers - he opened a few doors to some dusty cupboards!

    Our small group also contributed to the Green Paper [a consultation document] prior to the Bill about Age Discrimination in the UK passing into law as an Act of Parliament in 2006.

  • Comment number 76.

    I would like to add my comments to this thread, but as Mark Twain said “ God gave us eyes to plagiarise”, so I hope those who wrote them will not mind me re-using some of their comments
    In management terms, the big elephant in the corner of the room that should not be ignored, is the 50+ section of the population, who are out of work and have no wish, or financial capability, to retire and who feel that they are shouting in a vacuum. I agree totally that the over 50s are getting a raw deal. This is in fact a very old problem - for decades, the largest single group of unemployed, and especially long term unemployed, have been older people
    Economically, I understand why the government needs to raise the retirement age, but there has to be some sort of government initiative to get jobs for this greying population. Their focus on the young unemployed is also understandable, as they, if there is no hope of employment, are more likely, than us aged members of society, to cause disruption.
    Chris Grayling as Minister of State for Work and Pensions comments were pure hot air, which I suppose we should expect from our politicians.
    Isn't it about time we got a few more politicians in power who actually understands the realities and the economics of the business world, as well as a dash of social psychology, rather than spouting forth inaccurate mythologies? All he said was ” this is what we hope will happen” and the phrase that came to mind was ‘snow ball chance in h-ll’ that the private sector will pick up half a million public sector workers or that once redundant they will prove so entrepreneurial that they will set up in their own business, successfully. A little touch of reality would not go amiss. Our only response as the mature end of the voting public, is NOT TO VOTE FOR THEM
    While the program topic does make a vital contribution to the unemployment debate and brings to the fore the issue of ageism when it comes to the 'business' of hiring and firing, sadly it provided only a flimsy investigation into a very serious issue. Putting aside the distress of the interviewees and the challenges they were facing, the sight of a corpulent and self-congratulatory Lord Digby Jones getting out of his chauffeur driven car and dispensing worthless and puerile advice was enough to make anyone realise just why 50+’s are being so poorly treated and misrepresented. Please do your research properly and someone who understands and has a more sympathetic and consultative nature than Lord Digby Jones should have been found. It’s all very well saying repackage yourself but when you’re ‘outside wrapper’ says 50+, as it diminishes their credibility(and their ego), recruiters just are not interested in putting you forward.
    Reference and in support of No 43’s comments, recruitment consultants will not put forward 50+ candidates for interview because it is not a quick and easy way to get their commission. The Catch 22 conundrum is that recruitment consultants are mainly young, do not totally understand the position or the responsibilities that they are hiring for and cannot relate to the experience of the person and in the end, view anyone of 50+ as Methuselah. Even to get to an interview stage and be willing to work for less than your previous position or appear over skilled, dumb-founds the interviewers.
    I, myself, have some experience of what we all have been talking about, as someone in his late 50’s, whose career came to an abrupt end, re-focussed, volunteered for a position in education, subsequently got a part-time position in education, but has just been made redundant, due to the governments Dickensian cost cutting in that sector.
    I’m afraid it’s a case of ‘you can’t change the wind, but you can adjust the sails’

  • Comment number 77.

    I am 48 years old and struggling to find permanent work since being made redundant when the company I worked for was taken over. I initially set out with great optimism to find a new job – I have a lot to offer employers – but my experiences have led me to believe that ageism is rife in recruitment.

    It may be strange to some, but not surprising to me, that when the company I worked for was gradually being closed down it was the older members of staff that were made redundant last. This was because they had the most knowledge and experience and the new company desperately needed to pick their brains before they pushed them out the door.

    Older workers do have valuable skills. Many do not need to reskill they just need to be treated fairly. Those that do wish to acquire new skills need to know that it is worth doing so, and that once retrained, they will not still face the same problems of ageism.

    I have worked with a variety of people over my working life and I would say that it is very dangerous to stereotype any age group. There are worthy and unworthy people in all generations. I am particularly appalled by the vicious and unjustified accusations being made against my generation and find it strange that in these politically correct times, people feel they have the right to be as rude and prejudiced as they like about us. It is wrong, it is damaging and it needs to be stopped now. What signals are we sending to the younger generation? We are basically saying that human beings are only fit to work for 15 to 20 years and then they are finished.

  • Comment number 78.

    Thank you for all your comments, I don't think there are many issues that I have experienced that are not covered. The main area untouched is the DWP and the proposed new approach - payment by results. There should be a higher premium for placing and over 48, and under 24's. My personal weakness is my ability to market myself to businesses.

    Of course today see's new laws on the retirement! It is now illegal to talk about retirement. Everything is now a performance issue, reaching a specific age is not justification for de-selection for a job.

    Thanks to the Panorama Team for the links, some better than others. However, the fact that stands out is the number over 48 in employment is going up! If the team could find out who is succeeding and why then perhaps optimism will grow.

    Hong Kong also is bucking world trends. It has a very unique government, that seems to work! Strange it was designed by the British!

    I have to agree with those who say we are to blame. The power of Multi-nationals and globalization have been known for years. It was our generation of thinkers who were presented with the problem. We seem to have pretended it didn't exist, or did we just think about ourselves, we were alright! Looks like we were wrong! China and India are better capitalist than we are! The Arabs can turn the screw anytime they like. The second richest man is a Mexican! Yes business can drive growth, it is clearly doing it in Latin America and Asia, but at our expense(imports). I suspect that these economies need our skills, are we brave enough to migrate to the jobs?

  • Comment number 79.

    I have just watched the Panorama programme and have empathy with the people included. I was a surveyor until 2008 going mortgage valuations and spent 18 months searching for a job before I landed one working for Jobcentre Plus on a 6 month fixed term contract which started in January 2010, was extended to September and finally to May 2011. My contract is not to be extended and in June, I join the unemployed. Ironic really, as the people for whom I work are now making me one of the unemployed.

  • Comment number 80.

    Further to post 66 I recently applied to work part-time assistant in a new grocery store on a Motorway Service Area. I got through the initial group assessment and had a one to one interview with the site's young female Trainer. Towards the end of the interview I was asked if working for the relatively young store manager (who was busy interviewing other candidates) would be a problem for me as I'd previously worked in a high status job. I replied that that was 15 years ago and that since then I'd worked as a temp in a farmyard, as a customer service contact centre person and that getting on with younger generations wasn't a problem for me. Any ego I'd had had been knocked out of me over those 15 years.
    A few days later I got a call to say I hadn't been selected. When I pressed for feedback I was told that 'the interview was fine really, only I felt you were just slightly condescending towards me'.
    I've searched my recollection of the interview but all I recall is a chat between equals. Maybe I wasn't obsequious enough. Maybe she wanted me to scrabble on the floor and beg like some of the youngsters who were also being considered might actually do.
    But come to think of it, do I have an age discrimination case here? I doubt if she would ever ask a younger person if they'd find it uncomfortable working for a Manager in his mid 30's and I equally doubt if she would suggest that a young person was condescending towards her.

  • Comment number 81.

    Dear Mr Prime Minister
    The people who in the past has contributed to the success of the nation is now hurting. Please do not turn your back on them.

  • Comment number 82.

    Your programme did not even touch on the problem of the unemployed who are classified as long term sick.
    I am 56 and when my job finished last year (after 20 years service), because I have a mental health condition I was registered for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). The first thing that happened was I got ordered to a DWP medical, and the second was I was ordered to one of the DWP's "Business Partners" for assessment for retraining.
    The DWP "doctor" found me fit for work, although the Business Partner found I "was not ready for work". Because I was fit for work my benefit was cut off, but the Job Centre helpfully suggested I appeal against this. I am still waiting for the appeal hearing nine months later.
    What I would like to know is what happens when all the supposed 2 or 3 million people on long term invalidity benefits are tested. Judging by what happened to me their appeals could still be pending when the next government takes over in 2015!
    Your programme made the point very well that there is no work for people who are just OLDer than average. What if a couple of million extra people who are also unused and/or unwilling to work (or indeed genuinely too ill to work reliably) are added to the job pool and have their benefits cut?
    This could be a recipe for an increase in poverty 1930s style, and of course cutting the amount of money in the economy is also likely to reduce employment.

  • Comment number 83.

    I have not viewed Panorama for some years and was interested to see how the 30 minutes would be handled on such an interesting and important issue.

    I was so disappointed at the standard and anger set in at the beginning which, by the end had turned to disgust at how the BBC standards have plummeted.

    It appears that Fiona Phillips and Digby Jones are on the BBC's 'approved' list of those taking license payers money for less a than rigorously researched subject presentation. I felt that the unemployed woman featured could have done a much better job in presenting the difficulties encountered with unemployment than Fiona Phillips, as her honesty, eloquence and communication skills far outweighed the so called professional.

    Who on earth decided that Digby Jones could have anything relevant to contribute? His appearance and comments were inappropriate, mis-informed and insulting to the 4 participants and this viewer felt demeaned and slightly soiled from the half hour's viewing.

    The Minister was not worth listening to as he demonstrated that he had no grasp of the realities of the situation, therefore leaving us feeling gloomy, yet again, about the quality of our politicians.

    I had believed that the Panorama approach was one of excellence and reliability, but now feel that, as a license payer, I have colluded with the programme makers in parading 4 distressed and unemployed over 50's, pretending sympathy with their problems, patronising and insulting their intelligence and experience whilst using the programme as a cheap little money maker for themselves.

    Very poor. And no doubt the 4 participants were 'sold' their permission to participate with a promise of national exposure and thus increasing their employability. I do hope that it works.

    Is it too much to hope for a follow-up programme from BBC telling us what exactly has been achieved?

  • Comment number 84.

    Yet another 48 year old here looking for work:(

    Well I have just had a call 10 mins ago with another job rejection. I did a 50 mile round trip for a job interview yesterday, don't even want to think what it cost me in petrol and parking charges, for a job where I could tick every box of their requirements in a pharmaceutical company, only to hear today that they were looking for someone more 'vibrant'! After almost 12 months now of looking for a job and so many rejections or no replies what so ever it's a bit hard to be vibrant, but hey I got out my lovely suit, did my hair and make-up, re arranged my portfolio so it was more relevant to the company requirements and went with a slight hope in my heart that this would finally be the one, if only for a 4 month contract.

    The list of requirements for the job was as long as your arm, along with technical ability check, experience in a pharmaceutical environment check and educated to GCSE standard check with a formal qualification in graphic design check.

    I have tried applying for jobs that are completely out of my line of work, went for an interview a couple of months ago for a receptionist, £8 per hour 3 hours a day, the first hour of each day would be cancelled out wage wise as it would cost me £8 to park my car, no bus route or train to this company, and they only had parking for directors and senior staff. I didn't get the job, answering the phone and opening the post, as wait for it..... I didn't have any experience! I was interviewed by a manager in her 20's.

    I applied for an administrator job must have Mac experience, didn't get that either as I they had had applications from persons with more experience, I have applied now for countless jobs for which I do have experience and not got those either.

    Digby Jones says start up your own company! Well Mr Jones, I have been self employed for 10 years, freelancing, going into companies to fill in for absences or work on projects where they need more ‘hands’ on the job to get it finished. But even my contacts are not taking on anyone any more, I get back to them week after week but to no avail, as they are not getting the work in themselves and only have enough work to cover their immediate staff.

    I took a course at night school a while ago to learn a new software programme, I had to fund it as I am not eligible for any benefits, it was a complete waste of time, out of an 8 week course we only go to do 5 weeks, the course which was supposed to be an advanced Photoshop course had 6 other people on it 3 of which couldn't even turn on a computer. One guy kept asking me how to use the software rather than ask the tutor! Once a few of them found out that I was actually in that industry all they kept asking was how could they get a job?! The tutor was a young man again about 20ish, and when we all turned up on week 5 the door to the classroom was locked, finally I found an office open at the college and asked when he would turn up, and was told that a family member had been taken ill and the tutor had to go back to Pakistan and the course had been cancelled as he would be out there for a few weeks!!

    I had to fight the college to get a refund of my fees, when I asked the others on the course what they thought they ALL couldn’t care less as they were on benefits, unemployed and getting the course paid for by the government!

  • Comment number 85.

    Further to the above
    I have applied for jobs on a very low salary, but have been considered too ‘senior’ for ‘junior’ positions, I am not looking to work in the public sector and have always worked in the private sector, where the government think the private sector will mop up the people from the public sector when the next round of redundancies goes on I really don’t know as I can’t even find a job??? I think the government are in la la land on that one, THERE ARE NO JOBS OUT THERE. My local supermarkets, there are 2 of them, have job vacancy boards that are constantly empty. As there are several colleges, secondary schools and a university close to this area most of the part time and holiday jobs are taken up immediately by the students.

    In my phone call this morning to the agency that sent me for the job I asked the RC to honestly answer me re the current job situation, she admitted they used to have 9 people working there now it’s just 4, and last year they had 135 temps a week out working for them, at the moment its just 25 and that’s gone up by 3 to that figure only this week. I asked about re training and she said to be honest they can’t place re trained people as companies want people with experience that can go in on day 1 and start doing the job, she said they have a chap on their books that was a chiropodist that re-trained to be an accountant but they cant find him any work as he doesn’t have any experience!!!
    My experience of employment agencies are the same yet again of many on here I see the same job advertised week after week and when I apply it’s miraculously just been filled or they are on final interview and I am too late. I call and all they say is have you registered with us, I can’t get to speak to anyone other than the receptionist, and when I do get to speak to someone the following week they are always, out of the office, on the other line, in a meeting, on holiday etc etc.

    I watched the Panorama programme with enthusiasm at the beginning hoping that at last someone had realised the real dilemma and heartache out there with people in this age bracket, and come up with some answers or constructive solutions, but as most of the other posters on here I agree that Digby Jones was a complete waste of time.

    Volunteering won’t pay my mortgage, I can’t move as I have young children at school and what’s to say there’s any jobs anywhere else, I live in the South East so surely I am in a better position for work? Chris Grayling kept talking about what will happen in the future, I don’t want to know about the future I want to know about the here and now! He is taking about the future as no doubt they will be voted out by then and it’s not his problem, there were no real, solid answers from anyone.

    I really felt for the people taking part in the programme, and to go on about becoming self-employed and starting your own business was of little help, unless you have funding behind you it’s almost impossible. My ex re trained as a plumber 7 years ago before the job market got to this point, he is doing well but couldn’t have done it without my support and the fact that he was in a very well paid job working shifts that allowed him to fund the training and have the time to do the necessary courses in his free time, while still being able to pay the bills.

  • Comment number 86.

    Have posted the rest of my comments here as the site won't let me do one long one!!

    I am now a single mum, have a mortgage and 2 kids, volunteering won’t pay my bills and I am in constant worry of losing the family home, without my maintenance money and the little amount of tax credits I get I would not have any income at all, I am now worried that my income for the last year and the fact that I am doing less and less hours each week I won’t even qualify for tax credits as it’s a chicken and egg situation, you have to be working to receive them!

    I don’t have any family to bail me our or any inheritance coming to me. I am now looking at cleaning maybe initially for friends, I have experience with horses so can look at working at local yards mucking out horses, I have even offered to work for a company for nothing for a few weeks to learn reception work, like an older work experience person, I am not proud, I want and need work, I am just sad that 30 years doing a job I love has I feel now come to and end, I am not over the hill I am fit and healthy and willing to pull my weight, and if I can’t find anything at 48 what’s the chance in my 50’s or 60’s I hate to think of the future.
    I am on all the jobs web sites going and get regular emails each day for work but most of them are not in my area of the country or jobs I would never stand a chance of getting, in my location at the moment is dental nurse, quantity surveyor, registered nurse, IT consultant, engineering consultant, you get the picture, all advertised by agencies, so they may not even exist, the agency I spoke to today admitted that (not them of course) but jobs are advertised as ‘fishing’ jobs to get candidates registered, and to make them look busy to their bosses!!! Ha ha ha so funny…. NOT

    I would love to think that there may be some employers reading this at some point who will take note, somehow I doubt it, but in a funny way it makes me feel better that I am not alone in the job hunt, I think it can be a very lonely thing and by reading the comments on her I realise that I am not 'abnormal' or 'unemployable' we are all in this together.

  • Comment number 87.

    I suspect that the reason the government doesn't take much notice of the army of unemployed over 50's is that a very large proportion of them aren't costing them anything.
    A large number of us can't draw any public benefits and are therefore using savings or early retirement pensions to support ourselves and only when the capital runs out do we become a drain on the public purse.
    So effectively we are giving away our own money, saved over decades, to support ourselves and mortgaging our future which will eventually be nowhere as rosy as we thought it would be. Meanwhile others who have nowhere near the same lengthy work record and haven't put money aside are given all sorts of hand outs.
    Cynical exploitation might be a good phrase for it.
    The house I was in when made redundant at 48 is now worth £500K and our current house is worth £250K. I've downsized to save costs and to lose our small mortgage but really I've saved the government a fortune in benefits but they give no acknowledgemnt, help or support.

  • Comment number 88.

    Oh and if my experience with my Workers at War appearance back in 1999 is any yardstick the participants will get some lovely, sympathetic, well meaning letters, all of which I acknowledged. They'll also get lots of offers of work from network marketing scams of one sort or another (which would make a programme in themselves) and several offers of work on a commission only basis, but sadly nothing from what I'd call real, core work, be it scrubbing floors or managing director of a cutting edge tech. business. After a few weeks hope it was back to same old, same old.

  • Comment number 89.

    As a fifty two year single female, experiencing a period of unemployment, and temporary jobs, I was awaiting this programme with interest, But what did I see? four unemployed managers complaing that they could not any work in a similiar field.
    I know the programme makers have to make it interesting, but They were all the same, with the "expert" suggesting ideas which if any of the people featured would have done in their quest for work.I feel this programme has done more harm than good. I t was clear from the start of the programme, none of the participants wanted to change the out look or ambitions, The one who was offered a few shifts in a bar thought he was going too far backwards. I am educated to degree level,but following redundancyin adminitration in June 2009 Iwas not able to until recently able to find work in this field, (I am doing a job that I done when I left thirty years ago as a trainee) I have also trained as a carer in the community Both these job are a lot less than I previously earned, But beggars cannot be chooser.
    I think Panarama should broadcast a programme on those 50+ who have tried to help them selves

  • Comment number 90.

    Specilist-skills tend-to scare-off amateurs & those wary-of-recruiting superior-personel [counter-terrorism & finance more-obvious].
    Faced-with overwhelming-talant a 'whiper-snapper' more-likely to dismiss competition.

  • Comment number 91.

    Diversifying into new-business [designing shoulder-bags, frocks...] hits the British-disease of 'unrealistic-prices'; importing-from China, Cambodia... attracts import-duty, VAT... applicable-to Internet-&-store sales. Shopping-channels & discount-stores have little-or-no margin for growth, training, staff...

    Where is the next British Leyland... supposed-to come-from given investors likely to lose billions even-before State-jobsworths stick-their-nose-in?

    Manufacturing panties... here-in-the-UK against a backdrop of ever-cheaper too-risky; back-in 1914 cotton accounted-for 25% UK foreign-earnings. 'Britains bread hangs-by Lancashire-thread'; child-labourers & women kept prices-down, soft-water 'gone' together with cotton-industry.

    50+ &-younger workers 'taking-up-space'; no-provision for State-Pensions [Welfare-Bucket] hence starvation, illness... the-future-for-all.

  • Comment number 92.

    Young-uns are thinly-aware of blue-chip Woolworths... 5-decades-ago those getting-a-job within-a-bank [many-absorbed into current high-street; National & Provincial, Midland...] or town-hall short-of major criminal-activity were set-for-life.

    Career-paths have-not-existed for-decades; todays 'kids' have-watched family-members... signing-on, trying new-jobs... to no-avail. Cabbie-&-shooter Derek Bird 'lost-it'; is-this the norm?

    Unemployment, including 30+ years 'pension', is taking-us-back to the 19th-century where death-by-30 was 'natural' for-the-majority.

  • Comment number 93.

    Maybe the BBC will re-broadcast the-past to-inform politicians-&-others where we came-from; All Our Working Lives testifies to dead-industries & skills https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jwbtm

    Work into 70s; they are having-a-laugh

  • Comment number 94.

    There seem to be so many of us! It gets really lonely when made redundant after 50 and with an 'empty nest'. I've found it difficult finding how to network with others locally who are in the same position. Anyone in Cambridgeshire area want to get together - to moan, console and GET INTO POSITIVE ACTION?

  • Comment number 95.

    I've just been reading up about LORD Digby Jones or BARON Jones of Birmingham on the wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Digby_Jones. He went to one of those posh schools that charge: Annual full boarding fees: £23,760 - £26,010. https://www.isbi.com/viewschool.asp?school=1536-Bromsgrove_School

    What makes me sick is how his bourgeois class who created this "Boom and Bust" mess beginning in the States can pontificate to the ex-workers who have spent their WORKING lives generating wealth for the likes of the bourgeois such as Digby Jones.

    This man has the nerve to play word games with these victims when they tell their story or worse still tell one of them to look him in the eyes. I bet that guy felt like punching him in the eyes. How patronising and cowardly for someone from the class that makes the rules to put down someone from the class of those who can only move within the ever diminishing circles created for them?!

    And now that the employers don't find the 50+ sexy enough to employ, not only are they the victims of redundancy but also victimised for a second time through the media with the implication that they are not doing enough to find work or that they are being unreasonable for not looking for the lowest of the low types of work. What kind of employment do you think you'll be offered with "Road Sweeper" on your C.V.

    The likes of DJ would never be in this position because of all his capital and his connections.

    I, too, am 50+ and lost my job of nine years when the factory got bought up and shut down by foreign Capitalists who really bought it for its position in the world market place, the factory having previously been run into the ground for short-term profit by the so called Venture Capitalists (who shall remain nameless) who were eager to sell it off.

    I currently do have a job till the work runs out. It's a very simple type of job in a factory. You'd never believe I was once a Civil Servant or that I have an advanced City and Guild in Arc Welding taken at Suffolk College 20+ years ago but employers have always said that I have no experience. The only way forward in this society is down not up.

    It used to be Government policy to create employment but since Thatcher it is just the opposite. More people looking for work means driving down the wages and upping the Surplus Labour Value needed to appropriate more and more capital by and for the capital owning classes and whose capital no doubt gets invested in cheap foreign labour to give even better returns or we employ foreign trained labour as employers don't want to train anyone up because it will cost them.

    Too many people chasing too few jobs! That's the game plan.

  • Comment number 96.

    I've worked in and around the recruitment sector for the last 26 years both as a recruiter and as a Director of Internal Recruitment and Training for a global recruitment consultancy. Since being made redundant myself in 2007 aged 48, I've both experienced life on the other side of the fence and worked closely with recruitment businesses across many sectors both in the UK and overseas.

    The quality of service you receive from any recruitment consultant is very much dependant upon the skill level, attitude and most importantly training that the individual has received. Remuneration and business culture also come into play, with recruiters themselves frequently under extreme pressure to perform well in terms of KPIs and revenue or face losing their jobs.

    The recruitment sector itself is a huge industry with good, bad and distinctively average people working for them regardless of organisational size or brand. In defence of recruiters however, the sheer volume of CVs received for every job advertised, together with speculative applications is overwhelming.

    Recruiters can normally find a good short list of people pretty quickly that exactly match their client's requirements. Some employ Resourcers specifically to do this and to manage candidate databases, even if this translates into fairly bland rejection emails being sent out. They also get flooded with applications from candidates who in no way match the requirements of the role. The increasing use of recruitment technology and job boards has left candidates and recruiters alike alienated from the "human" part of the job seeking process. I've started several discussions on the subject of poor service to candidates on different recruitment groups on Linked In. By the way, Linked In is a good place to look for a job and promote yourself by loading up a detailed personal profile and connecting with those you've worked with over the years. Indeed I got tapped up for some work in China and Hong Kong through this method last year.

    For me this is a structural problem for which there is no easy solution. Certainly running my own recruitment, coaching and training business has given me freedom from traditional corporate life, but comes with pressure of getting the next piece of work in and supporting two young children.

    Moving forwards I think everyone will need a "Plan B" much earlier in their careers when they can start to build an alternative business/income stream that they can fall back on if things go badly wrong

    Undoubtedly those who feel alientated the most by this are the redundant older workers from

  • Comment number 97.


    all sectors, but rest assured plenty of younger applicants feel the same way.

    I wouldn't be too harsh on the format/content of this programme other than the frequently mentioned and ill-advised inclusion of Digby Jones. What it has achieved is a huge amount of feedback in response that emphasises the huge waste of human capital, knowledge and experience that exists both in the UK and I'm sure in many other economies too.

    It would be great to do a follow up programme involving all of those who've taken time to contribute to this topic. Certainly if the BBC could put all concerned together for a day sprinkled with some quality business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and recruiters who knows what would happen? Nestling amongst the people who've contributed here is an immense amount of talent that could be grouped into businesses that would be profitable and fun to work for.

    Sprinkled with a little start up cash, fresh starts could be up for grabs, as who knows who could be watching!

    Meanwhile as advised by the person who wrote the moving post no.15, people should forget who they were, and focus on creating something positive for the future. Don't give up, remember the recent scenes from Japan and put things in perspective...............

  • Comment number 98.

    come on you BBC bods, let's see you do something constructive with the license fee that we pay, let's see a constructive programme for the respondents who have submitted the comments to this thread. Do a programme that actually high-lights the issues raised (and may get the attention of the Government) and keep LORD DJ away.

  • Comment number 99.

    what do i do for money? i lost my job last year and i had always worked, i am now 52, every week i apply for jobs, i live on jsa, £67 pounds! i am on my own, how do we eat , we dont have heat or light i just can't afford it. my son is at college living on £30 pw ema, which he doesnt get when college is closed, he can't get a job either, how are we supposed to live? what if i can't ever get a job? the job applications are leaving me stressed and depressed no one wants to give me a chance, i will seriously loose my house soon. i have thought of giving up.

  • Comment number 100.

    I was one of the four people who were featured on this programme. What the programme did not highlight, however, was that the main fear, as far as I can ascertain, for over 50s is the worry of losing their homes. The situation for many over 50s is that they still have a substantial amount of their mortgage to repay. Often they have already paid a large part of the loan, their repayments are minimal and there is a decent amount of equity on their properties. The problem is that great many over 50s are now facing the fact that they may never work again, through no fault of their own, rather as a result of financial institutions greed and government ineptitude. However the financial institutions are currently inflexible, if the mortgage payments stop - they re-possess – We are, therefore, potentially, facing a UK version of the 'Grapes of Wrath', (John Steinbeck).

    Another solution and one that would take lobbying and petitioning to put in place, is that new legislation is introduced that allows County Courts to make an 'Equity share order', on a property where the mortgagee is clearly the innocent victim simply for being too old to get work. (I.e. they have kept up their repayments; it is their home and perhaps they are more than half way through their repayments). The idea is that the order would instigate a current valuation of the property. A charge would then be set on the property which would take into account the full capital amount remaining on the mortgage plus a share of the equity gained at the time of sale of the property/ death of the owner, based upon another valuation taken at that time. If the mortgagee does gain employment then the court order could be overturned; back into the original mortgage agreement with the period of unemployment taken into account.
    This would not mean the lending institutions are out of pocket but it would mean that, potentially, millions of over 50s facing current employment problems are not then compounded by the further problem of potentially also losing their homes.

    This may sound radical but we live in radical times, which have largely been caused, I re-iterate, by the greed of financial institutions and the ineptitude of government. In this regard, our current coalition would argue that it is not their fault, it is the previous Labour administrations.

    However, what they seem to forget in making this frequent statement is the fact that whilst the last Labour government are largely to blame - they were at the time the opposition and it was their duty to point out the error of the majority government’s ways - they never did; they actually strongly supported the policies and decisions taken by the Labour administration, of giving away billions of pounds to the banks, of which we are all now the victims. They may also argue it was essential to do so to support the economy, if so, why did Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, recently announce that any banks that get into trouble in future will be on their own – what has changed for him to make this announcement.

    It is about time the financial institutions and government developed a social conscience for the mess they have made; their support for such an Equity Sharing Scheme, highlighted above, would go a long way to showing it.

    However I personally think that petitioning and lobbying would be a far more effective to force them to act in a humanitarian fashion than merely asking them to examine their consciences.


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