This information is aimed at those involved in a broad range of employability support for customers aged 50+ rather than professional career guidance practitioners (those engaged in the provision of career guidance as their main professional activity).
Adviser Skills are Key in Supporting People 50+
While all these involve skill sets for working across customer groups, you will need to consider how to apply them to support your 50+ customers.
Experienced practitioners working with the 50+ age group have stressed that adviser skills are key and that the quality of provider employees are at the heart of success.
They emphasise the importance of having:
- the right personal qualities
- a genuine interest in working with people
- an ability to develop good rapport, patience and empathy.
The first case study describes what one provider looks for in selecting staff to work with the 50+; the second how another explored the benefits of 'streaming' an older customer group to help the 'harder to help'. The third case study describes how a provider trains advisers to work with the 50+.
Case Study 1 - Age Concern North Tyneside
Adviser / trainer skills
At Age Concern North Tyneside we provide considerable support to those seeking employment who are aged 50+. While all staff have to have a Level 3 NVQ in Information, Advice and Guidance , that is where our pre-requisite qualification requirement ends. For us, personal skills and experience are just as important and are as much of a predictor of whether someone is going to be good at helping more mature people back into work. Will they be a good communicator and listener, for example, as this is really key to their success? Are they likely to patronise? Older people in particular are sensitive to this. It’s no good having someone who says “I know exactly how you feel” unless they really do which is rarely the case as this just serves to create a barrier between the person and adviser.
We like to have people with some experience of providing employment learning advice and guidance on both a one to one and group basis. We look for a certain degree of confidence and skill in being able to do this too.
Experience of working with other organisations and partners is also very important, and not just working with them either but really understanding what those partnership have to offer our customers – how they add value to our work. Being able to identify partners and then forge and sustain good links with them is of real value to us.
Knowing the barriers the 50+ jobseeker faces is also vital. These include the feelings of those who have been made redundant, what some of the health problems they may be experiencing are, how de-motivated many older jobseekers feel (many believing they are finished and of no use to anyone, which of course is very rarely the case).
Being able to motivate people with these feeling and get them thinking in a different and more positive way is essential. We have a course Mid Life Moves. This covers a range of topics not normally associated with job seeking such as healthy eating and living, motivation skills, confidence building as well as the more traditional job search, CV, and interview technique training. Staff need the skills to be able to deliver sessions on each of these topics. When we select staff we work very hard to get the people with just the right mix of experience and skills so they can carry out their role effectively.
Skills and Professional Development
As a professional, you have a responsibility to engage in continuous professional development, often referred to as CPD. This means taking action to keep your skills and knowledge up to date and seeking to improve your capabilities across the range of tasks you carry out.
It is likely that your job role covers a broad range of skills and you may have to follow more than one path of study or work to acquire all the skills you need. As a result, it may be useful to isolate key skills and knowledge areas into different categories. These are some that might be relevant:
Whilst there are a range of qualifications relating to training and advice that you may need or want to undertake you should also take advantage of the wide variety of other ways to extend your skill and knowledge base.
Use this checklist to identify some of the different ways you could expand your knowledge and skills:
Checklist for expanding knowledge and gaining skills
- Gaining further qualifications in your subject or industrial expertise through an accredited course
- Peer review or coaching (coaching others and being coached in your subject or vocational area)
- Becoming a subject learning coach or advanced learning coach training
- Work shadowing
- Leading team / department self-assessment
- Carrying out and disseminating action research (reflective process on how to improve the way in which teams address issues and solve problems in the practice of their profession)
- Designing innovative feedback mechanisms (learners and peers)
- Being an active member of a committee or steering group related to your subject area
- Peer visits to community organisations / partners
- Reading and reviewing books or journal articles
- Updating knowledge through the internet / TV / other media and reviewing these with a group of colleagues
- Updating knowledge through visits, placements, secondments or shadowing
- Attending external briefings and disseminate to colleagues
- Writing reports / papers to inform your colleagues
- Networking with other subject specialists
- Planning or running a staff development activity or event.