Older workers are suffering thanks to nationwide price rises. We spoke to one older jobseeker in such a predicament.
Isaac, 58, runs a consultancy and lives in London. He has a primary-school-aged son who lives with him for part of each week.
Isaac’s consultancy advises start-ups on how to find investors and raise capital, but his work has slowed down a lot since the Covid pandemic, with many investors still being cautious this year.
For Isaac, this has made it far harder to cope with rising prices. He has also been suffering from depression and anxiety this year, which affects how much work he can do.
“My income has fallen very substantially for a variety of reasons – some related to wider economic things, but also I’ve had some mental health struggles, which has impeded my work and therefore my earnings,” he says. “So the [price] increases that I’m facing around everything – food, rent, energy – are extremely, extremely anxiety-provoking.”
His monthly energy bill has gone up from £160 in August to almost £300 now, although he’s challenging his energy company over the number. His rent has gone up by £100 per month and now stands at £1900 per month and he says he can’t move home as his son attends a local primary school and it’s not a good time to move him.
“Like everyone, I’m trying to limit my use of energy,” he admits. “I’m buying lower-quality food products, which are cheaper, and I’m just trying to drum up more work.”
He’s also had to wait for six months to get NHS therapy for his mental health issues, which is finally due to start this month.
Isaac enjoys working and always imagined that he would work into his late 60s or even 70s. But over the past month, he’s started looking for staff roles, as he’s been finding self-employment too erratic.
“I can’t click my fingers and bring in work overnight,” he says. “It takes months to build additional work up…[I feel] quite despondent. I’m not in a position where I can just put up my fees, because I’m being charged more for my own daily expenses.”
However, he’s finding application processes are tailored towards workers aged 20-40 and he feels unsure about his chances.
“It’s nothing explicit…but you can see straight away on jobs boards that the whole application process assumes a ‘regular’ career trajectory, which may well apply to someone between 20 and 40,” he says. “But life gets more complex after that. And for umpteen reasons, there’s all kinds of irregularities, career breaks, interruptions. And there’s no way of conveying that that’s not a sign of unreliability.”
He continues, “In terms of finding work, I think there’s a lot of closed-mindedness. I think recruiters and businesses have a fixed image of the teams they’re trying to build, which are all very age-similar. They don’t look for age diversity.”
“Life just gets a whole lot more complicated [as you get older]. And the standard two-sided CV, which talks about regular employment and doesn’t enable you to nuance anything, is hopelessly unfit for purpose.”