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Job programmes for over-50s

If you're out of work voluntarily or through redundancy, it can take time to find another job, regardless of your age. Your wealth of experience in the workplace is highly valuable and you can use your knowledge and skills to find employment.

Help for older jobseekers

There are programmes and resources available to anyone over 50 to help you find work or learn new skills. If you're unemployed or thinking about a change of career, it's a good time to review your experience and CV. Think about the skills you have and if you need some extra training for the job you want.

There are many recruitment and advice agencies that offer help for older people looking for work.

Employment Service Support

Employment Service Support (ESS) is a voluntary programme which offers unemployed people skills to look for jobs, training and paid job placements. ESS is available until March 2015.

  • Employment Service Support


The Local Employment Intermediary Service (LEMIS) helps unemployed people overcome those issues that may be preventing them from finding and keeping a job.

The service is provided by community employment organisations in Belfast, Londonderry, Strabane, Newry and Mourne, Moyle and Cookstown council areas.


Bridge to Employment

Bridge to Employment (Bridge) is a pre-employment training programme that helps people aged 18 and over find a job if they are unemployed - whatever their work experience.

Careers Service

For careers information, advice and guidance to help you make informed choices about your future career path you can contact a careers adviser. Professionally qualified careers advisers are based in Careers Resource Centres, Jobs and Benefits Offices and JobCentres throughout Northern Ireland.

Jobs and Benefits office/JobCentre

Jobs and Benefits offices/JobCentres provide help and advice on jobs and training for people eligible for work. An adviser at your local Jobs and Benefits office/JobCentre can discuss the type of work you want and training opportunities that may be available.

Find a job now

The Department for Employment and Learning's (DEL) JobCentreOnline website lets you search for jobs throughout Northern Ireland. The Careers Service offers careers information to help you decide your career path.

Step Ahead 50+

Step Ahead 50+ provides a fixed term job opportunity lasting up to 26 weeks with an organisation in the voluntary/community sector. It is for people aged 50 or over who have been unemployed and claiming benefit for 12 months or more. It gives participants a chance to experience a real job and provide them with a recent work history.


To be eligible for Step Ahead 50+, you must be:

  • aged 50 years old or over, out of work and getting either Jobseeker's Allowance (including Benefit Based Training Allowance), Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance for a continuous period of 12 months or more •a short break or an accumulation of short breaks, which do not exceed 28 days in total, will not affect your eligibility

You are only eligible for one period of employment funded by Step Ahead 50+.

You can also study for a qualification while on Step Ahead 50+.

More information on this programme is available by contacting an Employment Service Adviser in your local Jobs and Benefits office/JobCentre.

Starting your own business

The decision to start your own business is a big step. It's important to be aware of what happens when you become self-employed and where to go for help and advice.

Age discrimination

An employer is breaking the law if they victimise, harass or discriminate directly or indirectly against an employee on the grounds of age. Age discrimination is illegal in:

  • recruitment
  • selection and promotion
  • service-related pay and benefits
  • retirement
  • occupational pensions
  • unfair dismissal
  • redundancy

Employers can continue employing people who are 65 or over.

Employers may treat people differently on the grounds of age if they can satisfy the objective justification test in court – if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

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