Saturday, 23 March 2013

Past the sell by date?

Its been a funny old week...two years! Reaching the grand old age of 55 has been quite a revealation. In my early 30s...many moons ago when we lived in Thatcher's 80s London I remember seeing a documentary about people not quite old enough to retire who had been made redundant. It seemed a bit unreal and with the arrogance of youth I secretly thought "that could never happen to me". However, I do remember some poor chap in his 50s breaking down in tears and saying it had ruined his life losing his job and he would never work again. 

Well fast forward to 2013...here I am in my mid 50s and my worst nightmare has come true. I and my colleagues were made redundant in 2011 -victims of the first tranche of government cut backs. The Local Authority took the chance to axe us too-with little or no reflection whether ours was a service which should be kept. My principle feeling was anger, but as time progressed that deepened and became bitterness and sadness.

Naturally, I applied for many jobs, part time and otherwise, as well as going on the supply list. Two colleagues-one ten years my junior and one a youngster of 24 both found jobs fairly quickly-thank goodness. My other work friend and I did not-both of us in our 50s and female. We have worked together through a small new business we set up and although we have work it is providing us with incomes very much less than we are both used to. Additionally, it is not secure and we both top up with casual posts and part time bits and pieces.

So we have become part of the Tory brave new world of the "flexible and part time workforce" which they champion as a triumph and suggest that we should all be happy to have any work. We have to fight hard for any work and it feels like spinning gold from straw sometimes as we have been very creative and skillful in finding small contracts herand there. Better than being on the dole...infinitely better...but not ideal.

However, it does seem a catch 22 situation as on one hand we are being told we must work longer...and on the other we are evidently superfluous in the jobs market because of age! So tell me...how does that work? I can see youngsters must have jobs, but actually we oldies would quite like one too! And what about the qualifications-hard earned over years, skills and experience? Do they count for nothing? Are they not useful in the employment arena? Obviously not! So its onwards with the self driven, self employed "career"-what other option is there? Can't help thinking though that our talents are being squandered and that this is a big mistake!

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