Older entrepreneurs are a key driver of business start-up activity, with the trend for older people creating and running growing ventures accelerating, according to a new report.

The SmartRegion report, which contains findings from research and engagements contributed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, and other local and national business support organisations, also highlights how businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire who are experiencing skills shortages should consider employing workers aged over-50.

The report highlights the importance of continuing to engage with business support, and employment and skills provision, to help firms who are struggling to recruit skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers.

The number of people aged 50 to 64 who are not in work or looking for a job in the UK grew from 3,267,000 in the first quarter of 2020 to 3,556,000 in the first quarter of 2023.

According to research from the Centre for Ageing Better, 36 per cent of people aged over fifty think their age now puts them at a disadvantage when searching for a job or starting a business.

And a recent poll by the Chartered Management Institute found that just four in ten managers were in favour of hiring workers aged between 50 and 64.

But over-50s in Coventry and Warwickshire have already become more entrepreneurial and more employable to businesses thanks to a range of upskilling programmes available to them.

Coventry City Council works in partnership with the Coventry Job Shop and the National Careers Service to host a 50-plus event on the last Wednesday of every month where several providers present their services. Topics have included information on learning through the Adult Education Service and an assessment of Digital Skills and Maths.

Warwickshire County Council also supports older entrepreneurs and older workers via its Future Focus Apprenticeships Programme – New Direction 50+; New Direction 50+ Skills Investment Fund; and the Warwickshire Apprenticeship Progression Payment initiative.

There is also no upper age limit to take part in the Warwickshire Supported Employment Service or Fair Chance Employment Programme.

There is also a range of business support available for older entrepreneurs including The Silverpreneurs Programme which aims to inspire and empower the over-50s, who are looking to develop their existing or early-stage business as part of an experienced and supportive business community.

Craig Humphrey, Chief Executive at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said it was important to successfully engage with local businesses to highlight the benefits of employing older workers and encouraging older entrepreneurs in growing their ventures.

He said: “There are many people aged over 50 who have a strong base of skills to already build from, and offer huge potential.

“But with many people aged over 50 sometimes struggling to find employment if they have been made redundant or are returning to the workplace after taking time off to care for a relative, we need to help businesses understand that this demographic could help ease the skills shortages which some employers are finding.

“The wide number of free employment and skills programmes available throughout Coventry and Warwickshire are already plugging this gap by equipping the over-50s with the skills that employers are looking for.

“In addition, the SmartRegion report highlights that exploring entrepreneurship opportunities is appealing to many people, helping them to thrive as successful business owners through making the most of the successful networks they have built up over the years as well as often being in a more financially stable position to launch a new business.

“It is important that we support older entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, and help older workers back into the workplace. Both of these will help drive growth and boost Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy, and help it reach its potential.”

Image Caption: Craig Humphrey, CEO of Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub