'Alarming' number of over 50s out of work in Wales

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Image caption The over 50s could be 'undervalued and underappreciated' warn AMs

There is an urgent need for policies to improve the job prospects for the over 50s, the Welsh assembly's enterprise and business committee has warned.

There are 1.2 million people over 50 in Wales and more than a third of 50 to 64-year-olds are not working.

Chairman William Graham said this was "alarming" while work was "now a necessity - not a choice for the majority of this age group".

There was a need to dispel "myths" that older workers were less productive.

In Wales, 53,000 people aged 65 and over are employed, an increase of 14% over the year to March 2014.

People over 50 are more likely to be unemployed for more than a year than any other age group in Wales, the committee found.

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Older People's Commissioner Sarah Rochira told AMs she found this "quite alarming".

They were "undervalued, underappreciated and very much an afterthought" in terms of programmes to help them.

The proportion of over 50s out of work in Wales is the highest in the UK, apart from in Northern Ireland.

Of those who are working, one in three are working part-time, with women more likely to be working part-time than men.

Barriers included care responsibilities but also ageism, and stereotypes that the over 50s are in poor health, are less productive or are slower to adapt to new technologies.

Prime Cymru, a charity which helps older workers find work or set up their own businesses, told the AMs that the employers' group the CBI has forecast that the UK will need 13.5 million new workers in the next 10 years and that there are only 7 million young people entering the workforce.

The report makes 11 recommendations, including:

  • Skills training
  • An all-age programme on the lines of Jobs Growth Wales
  • Dismantling of stereotypes about people over 50 - these included attitudes that they were in poor health despite nearly two-thirds being fit and keen to work

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "We will consider the report and respond in due course."


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Media captionDawn Wilcox lost her council job after 12 years

Dawn Wilcox helped children struggling with reading in schools when she was made redundant at the age of 52.

Her daughter, 26, was also made redundant at the same time in March 2014 and they pooled their redundancy money to start their own cafe business in Ystrad, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

"I was quite scared when they delivered the news. When you lose your job it drains you of everything, you feel so worthless. You think 'all these years I've put into training and that's not needed anymore'.

"I had a lot of family commitments besides so I didn't feel like going through the retraining route.

"It's nice to come into work knowing you're your own boss and doing something totally different."

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