Doubling in Number of 50+ Apprentices

The number of workers aged 50 and over starting apprenticeships doubled between 2007-08 and 2008-09, dealing a major blow to the stereotype that older workers are reluctant to learn new skills.

According to figures obtained by Age UK and TAEN from the Skills Funding Agency, the number of 50+ apprentices leapt from 2,605 to 5,376 over this period.  The figure includes over 400 people in their 60s and 13 in their 70s, including the oldest apprentice in the country aged 76. 

Commenting on the figures, TAEN’s Chief Executive, Chris Ball said:

“Contrary to popular belief apprentices are not all young people starting out in their working lives. These figures demonstrate that ever larger numbers of older people have been seizing opportunities to retrain and pursue new career paths despite the challenges of recession.

“TAEN welcome these statistics. Many bosses, in particular, are to be applauded for giving older workers the chance to develop their skills by taking apprenticeships within their organisation. However we believe that more employers need to follow suit and make it possible for those in later life to take apprenticeships so that they can continue to contribute their skills and dedication to businesses and the wider economy.”

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, added:

“It’s great to see so many 50+ workers snap up the opportunity to upgrade their skills or make a fresh start with their careers through an apprenticeship.

“This five-thousand strong army of silver apprentices is a refreshing sight which defies the stereotype that older people are reluctant to learn new skills and sends a clear message that age is no barrier to what people can achieve.

“Our ageing society is reshaping the job market but employment legislation hasn’t kept pace with it. The Government must stand by its decision to abolish forced retirement while ensuring older workers have access to training opportunities and receive tailored back-to-work support when unemployed.”

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