Birmingham City University (BCU) has held its first ‘Skill Up Day’ for people over the age of 50 who are seeking work. Fourteen participants from across Birmingham & Solihull jobcentres attended the session and it was a big hit. The Skill Up Day included advice on writing CVs and job applications, searching for roles and interview techniques, and preparing to start a new job. It was delivered at BCU by the STEM-Up and Early Years Career Progression Pathways projects - which are part-funded by the European Social Fund - in collaboration with their project partners Aston University, Solihull College & University Centre, West Smethwick Enterprise, Birmingham Newman University and representatives from Birmingham & Solihull Jobcentres.
Learning valuable skills
Participant feedback from the Skill Up session was overwhelmingly positive with many stating that they found the event extremely valuable. 1-2-1 support was offered at the end of the day and many participants were referred to other project training sessions to support digital and engineering skills or advised to apply for advertised jobs suiting their experience.
Saika Bi, the DWP’s Birmingham and Solihull’s 50PLUS champion, said ‘Participants actively collaborated in group activities and presentations. It was brilliant seeing individuals come out of their shell. Everyone received a certificate of participation at the end, and are able to include this experience on their CV.’
Nick Birch, Project Manager for STEM-Up at BCU, who organised the first course which took place on 4 October said ‘The learners actually said they would have liked even more time on jobseeking coaching so I’ll be looking at ways to enhance the next Skill Up Day planned for 6 December to take this into account. We received great feedback on the day which will help us to deliver something even more useful next time.’
Several businesses in Birmingham who target the over 50s include Boots, B&Q and Next as well as nationally Aviva, Barclays and National Express. It is hoped to include these businesses in the planning for future Skill Up sessions and to signpost customers to these and other businesses when they complete the session.
‘If we’re hiring for a role, older people aren’t afraid to come and apply, because we have the reputation for being inclusive and supportive. The groundwork done a while ago has laid that foundation, but we certainly don’t predefine who we’re looking to hire now based on these types of characteristics or try to tick boxes. We look for colleagues who can best serve the customer’ said B&Q’s internal communications lead Gavin Buckle.
BCU and many of these businesses will also be promoting National Older Workers Week from 20-24 November to get the message across.
Getting people aged 50PLUS back into employment is a key priority for the government and is seen as an important factor in achieving economic growth. The government have put in place support for jobseekers over the age of 50 at jobcentres to help them get into, and progress in work, boosting their earnings ahead of retirement such as Skill Up Days.
Mid-life MOTs are also available in jobcentres, targeting those thinking about retirement and engaging them to take stock of their skills and finances, and consider taking jobs that could boost their incomes based on their skills and experience.
Minister for Employment, Mims Davies MP said: ‘Older workers are a huge asset to this country, and there are currently more than 400,000 over 50s in roles than before the pandemic. Helping people find the security of a stable income, through a job they can take pride in, is also one of the best ways for people to support their families during these challenging times.’
The next Skill Up Day will take place on 6 December on the campus at BCU.