I suspect that, like many others aged over 50, COVID-19 has created its own unique challenges, especially around work. The latest statistics regarding unemployment and the over 50s are shocking with the Centre for Ageing Better and the Learning and Work Institute speculating “that one in 10 male, and eight in 10 female workers in their 50s and 60s face a significant risk of losing their jobs as the furlough scheme is wound down, as they are employed in “shutdown sectors” hardest hit by the lockdown.”
As someone who has spent the past three years helping older people to discover new pathways to employment, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact that losing one’s job can have – both financially and mentally. If you’ve spent the majority of your life fully employed, it can be particularly crushing to feel that your skills are no longer valued or that your lifetime’s work hasn’t delivered you the long-term financial security for which you were hoping.
The older entrepreneur success story has been well reported by the media, leading one to the assumption that everyone has a burning passion or purpose inside them if only they were given the opportunity to exercise it. My own experience of working with my peers is somewhat different – for many people self-employment is more of a neccessity rather than a desire. It’s more about putting food or the table or filling in gaps left by a pension shortfall than burning the midnight oil in order to earn enough for a Maserati or a country estate.
It’s for this reason that my colleague business educator and facilitator, Mark Elliott have created Startup School for Seniors. No matter if you’re a budding entrepreneur or someone with a hobby you’re keen to turn into a business, we’ve designed this 8 week course to help you get your idea off the ground and on the road to success… no matter how big or small your ambitions.
Funded by London Community Response Fund, the programme is entirely online with weekly videos to watch, homework and opportunities to connect with the other participants via a weekly Zoom session and a private Facebook community. Mark and myself both have years of experience of running our own businesses as well as helping others and, as a result, have taken the best of what we’ve learned over the years in an effort to save our peers from wasting valuable time, energy and money.
It’s as much a startup project for us as it is for those for whom we are seeking to support. Producing videos in lockdown, some individually and some together via the ‘record’ function of Zoom has been a real learning curve for both of us, especially with no director available to shout ‘Action’ or ‘Cut’!
Over the past three months, we’ve produced videos on topics ranging from ‘Where do business ideas come from?’ to ‘social media marketing,’ ‘pricing your product or service,’ ‘funding,’ ‘business planning’ and much more. Where we can, we’ve recruited others, also aged over 50, to share their expertise on networking, intellectual property, why video matters, building a website. Unlike other business programmes our aim is to enable the course to fit around anyone’s schedule as we know that over 50s are very often juggling multiple responsibilies which may include as informal carers, babysitters or holding down a part-time role.
The course is free and fully funded by London Community Response for any Londoner, aged over 50, currently unemployed or made redundant. For anyone else, the cost is a very reasonable £75 for the unemployed or £149 for those in work. It’s launching on 5th October and there’s 100 places available for our first cohort.
You can sign up here.