A new survey from YouGov shows that over a third of business managers - 37% - are planning on making redundancies before the new year, in light of the fact that the furlough scheme draws to a close at the end of this month. The news comes hand-in-hand with information that the number of over 50s in work has decreased for the first time in thirty years, according to the Telegraph in September.
For those who have been on the job ladder for some time, the skills they have learned from the world of work may allow for a change in direction - perhaps to start a freelance career. For those aged 40-55 in particular, otherwise known as Generation X, their knowledge and experience arms them with the best tools to become self-employed.
When the 2008 crash hit, Generation X would have been reaching the peak of their career and been forced to start again. Now, this cohort finds themselves chased again by the Coronavirus pandemic at the point where they have successfully climbed the job ladder. Generation X has emerged as a 'sandwich' generation; placed between the optimistic Millennials and the well-established Baby Boomers and who are perhaps the most affected by cyclical economic shock. Further to this, research from The Future Strategy Club (https://futurestrategyclub.com) has found that nearly 3 in 10 (29%) business leaders have already streamlined their teams during the pandemic and, in many cases, it has been the UK's top talent that has been impacted the most.
This time, however, if they are struggling to get back into the labour market, Gen X has the chance to capitalise on their own skillset and start their own business - an opportunity that was perhaps not as viable after the 2008 recession. Now, with years of experience under their belt, will COVID-19 breed a new generation of entrepreneurs?
Justin Small, Founder of The Future Strategy Club - a lean and transparent agency with access to the finest freelance talent - has discussed why he believes Gen Xs could become the next generation of 'Business Boomers':
“Generation X presents a really interesting segment of the UK workforce, uniquely sandwiched between Millennials and Baby Boomers who in their own right have received a lot of attention. Millennial entrepreneurs, for example, are renowned as the entrepreneurial generation, however in the UK, the average entrepreneur is actually 40+.
I predict there will be significant growth in the number of 40+ entrepreneurs over the next few years or so, whether in a contractor, freelancing or product-focused SME capacity, because the PAYE paycheck may not be the most reliable constant in life planning any longer. Instead, the skills and the experience accrued over decades in professional environments will be invaluable to many businesses trying to adapt to the new normal. The ability of these Gen Xers to monetise these skills will become ever more important.
At The Future Strategy Club, we work with a body of these experienced individuals who now have circa 15 years worth of skills to tap in to, having weathered the 2008 crisis and now COVID-19. Now, with kids and mortgages in tow, stepping back onto an upwards facing career ladder is not on the agenda. For the majority of these entrepreneurial self-starters, they see the COVID-19 period as an opportunity to work for themselves, choose their own working environment and gain true security from their own knowledge and skillset. Freelancing and running their own company enables growth and purpose, leading to the freedom of self-reliance. If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it is that this self-reliance is ultimately the only security we can rely on in the end. I believe COVID-19 will be the catalyst for a massive amount of 40+ talent to change careers, and finally put their business ideas into action."