Empowering the Freelance Economy

A “bleak” Over 50s middle management job market urging candidates to go freelance or become PAYE contractors

Suzanne Noble, right, with Startup School for Seniors co-founder Mark Elliott (left)
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Recruitment specialists respond to the latest ONS Labour Market Statistics, which showed a record number of job vacancies (1,102,000) from July to September 2021 and another monthly increase of the number of employees in work (a record of 29.2m) – a return to pre-pandemic levels (February 2020).  But if you are highly skilled, in middle managment and over 50, your patience could be tested when looking for a new role. Carving out a new role by going solo may be your best bet


The job market for over-50s is looking particularly bleak right now, especially for those in middle management, according to said Suzanne Noble, Co-director, Startup School for Seniors.

“Over the past two weeks, we’ve had over 350 enquiries to join Startup School for Seniors, from those who are expecting to be made redundant to others who are currently unemployed. Many are using this time of uncertainty to reflect and consider their options, choosing to go it alone and become self-employed,” said Noble.

The development comes on the heels of a recent Freelance Informer report that highlighted that highly skilled workers may find the job seeking process discouraging due to the limited number of vacancies.

Sandra Wilson, director of Ipswich-based recruitment and HR companyCottrell Moore has said her business has seen vacancies reach an astonishingly high level over the past few months. But not all is what it seems.

“As positive as this sounds, all is not as it appears. There is a complete misalignment of skills available in the market and high demand in certain skill sets and sectors is creating a false economy.”

Social care and education jobs market

Louise Burns, director of Tyne and Wear-based Nineteen Recruitment, said as a supplier of staff to the social care and education sectors in the North East, she has seen a distinct decline in candidates looking for work.

“There is significant demand for support workers and care assistants at the moment and there simply aren’t enough candidates to fill those jobs. Working in social care already demands flexibility and long working hours, and because of the climate, employers in social care are looking for candidates who already have experience and are able to hit the ground running. There simply aren’t enough candidates able to do this to fulfil demand right now.”

Economic uncertainty holding candidates back

Paul Farrer, founder of recruitment agency, Aspire,

Paul Farrer, founder of recruitment agency, Aspire, has reacted to the latest ONS Labour Marjet Statistics, highlighting there is some hesitancy on the part of potential candidates:

“The job vacancy boom continues, as businesses look to hire the skills they need to bounce back from the pandemic. But this is a double-edged sword,” said Farrer.

“For jobseekers, there are more opportunities than ever before. However, clear reluctance among people to change roles – a trend likely linked to post-pandemic economic uncertainty – creates major problems for hiring businesses, who are experiencing severe staff shortages. 

Paul Farrer, Founder of Aspire

Farrer continued: “The HGV driver crisis just goes to show the difficulties encountered – not just by businesses but across the wider economy – that a record number of job vacancies can lead to. But while some elements, such as Brexit, may be out of their control, hiring businesses should focus on factors they can manage. 

“Whether it’s salary, flexible working policies or a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion, it’s critical that employers react to the changes happening in society – changes that people want to see reflected in their jobs. It may just make all the difference in recruiting the talent that firms need to survive.”

Recent Aspire research surveyed nearly 600 workers to reveal the factors that matter most to jobseekers. In order, the five most important factors were:

  1. Salary
  2. Flexible working policy
  3. Progression and development opportunities
  4. Challenging nature of a role
  5. Company culture 

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