No desire to retire! Westminster backs Norwich firm tackling ageism at work

Carl West and Steve Perry, founders of No Desire to Retire.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Carl West and Steve Perry, founders of No Desire to Retire.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A Norwich company tackling the looming recruitment crisis among the over 50-year-olds has received formal backing from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as it looks to return a 'missing million' to work.

No Desire to Retire, which was fully launched in March this year by founder Steve Perry, is building a database to link the older generation with employers, households, full-time roles and casual work amid evidence that their skills are not being made use of.

And since the DWP contacted the company at St James' Place to suggest a formal work partnership, the company is gearing up for an advertising campaign to build the current 3000 subscribers to 50,000 by December - and 150,000 the year after that.

Carl West, marketing director at No Desire to Retire, said the four-staff team had hit upon a growing concern for the government.

'The department approached us in part because there needs to be this big recruitment push for the over 50s in the coming year,' said Mr West. 'All the focus has been on the employment figures for 18 to 24-year-olds, but the government knows there's a huge shortfall coming for jobs and thousands of over 50s who are not being employed properly.'

According to No Desire to Retire, there are at least 700,000 over 50s who would like to work, whilst The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) estimates a higher number and dubs it the 'missing million'.

And this month a study of 1,400 managers by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) said that older workers were routinely being overlooked for promotion.

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Sheila Fawcett, a 68-year-old sales professional from Wymondham and subscriber to No Desire to Retire, said her age should not come in to the question of how effective a worker she was.

'I still love working and like a new challenge,' said Mrs Fawcett, who has 15 years experience in business-to-business telesales and marketing. 'I'm doing work for someone in Dorset at the moment, and it has crossed my mind that if they knew how old I was, they might not have looked at my application.'

Keeping the database free of charge has won the company subscribers in Scotland, Suffolk, Wales, Cambridgeshire, Devon and more, from chemical engineers to gardeners, marketing professionals and even a leading 'poltergeist eradicator'.

But to really take off - and get Norfolk as involved as other parts of the country - it needs to run a larger-scale advertising campaign.

With a meeting scheduled in August with director of the DWP, Sandra Lambert, the company is hoping that use of the department's logos and connections will allow their self-funded enterprise to expand yet further.

Have you found an innovative way to make use of your skills? Contact business writer Jess Staufenberg on 01603772531 or email jessica,

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