Startup school launches to support Warwickshire’s 'Olderpreneurs'
"We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own."
Fifty, sixty and seventy-somethings in Coventry and Warwickshire are being invited to join a free online school for ‘olderpreneurs’ seeking to set up in business post-Covid.
The Startup School for Seniors is the brainchild of entrepreneur Suzanne Noble, 60, and Mark Elliott, 57, who came up with the idea of the free, eight-week course as a result of successive lockdowns causing large rises in unemployment for over-50s.
It’s one of five courses taking place across the UK, with funding for the Warwickshire course provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) - and there are 30 free places available.
According to the latest Office for National Statistics labour market data, there are now 550,000 fewer people aged over 50 who work than before the pandemic began - the most significant fall over two years in at least 30 years. At the same time, many older people who were put on furlough or made redundant during lockdown opted not to return to work afterwards.
One in five people over 50 are self-employed, more than any other age group - and Suzanne says that while the pandemic affected the younger generation and over-50s the worst, it’s the older generation who will struggle to pick themselves up in the aftermath.
The online course comprises over 25 hours of video lessons from Suzanne and Mark plus a weekly exploration and collaboration call designed to encourage participants to articulate their business ideas in a safe and welcoming space. By the end of the course, participants will have improved their digital skills via Zoom, and many will have produced a short-form video to showcase their business.
"Covid has changed the employment market irreversibly and made it even harder for workers aged 50-plus to find a job,"said Suzanne. "We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own.
"When people think of start-ups, they tend to picture high-growth tech businesses launched by 20-somethings wearing Converse, but in reality the decision for many people to set up their own company is increasingly driven by necessity and putting food on the table."
Mark advises people to take stock of what they enjoy doing, especially around what's known as soft skills such as creative thinking, adaptability, communication, curiosity and how they can use these to their advantage.
"It could involve them monetising a lifelong hobby or putting the experience they’ve gleaned through their employed careers into use for themselves," he said. "For many of the olderpreneurs on our course, self-employment is also about flexibility and working around caring responsibilities, which affect one in five people over 50."
Of the previous participants in the course first held last year, nearly 40% had made money from their business before they finished the course and 100% reported feeling more confident about running their own business after it.
Startup School for Seniors is free to anyone in Coventry and Warwickshire aged 50+ who is either currently unemployed, has recently been made redundant or is economically inactive. The next course takes place in June - please visit startupschoolforseniors.com to find out more.