Fresh plea to assist older workers with career advice in Surrey

The current focus on apprenticeships and getting students and young people into work in Surrey is vital for the future of the region, but more must also be done to assist older professionals seeking career advice or support.

That is the view of Tuke Sonaike, who recently organised the first event in Reigate and Banstead focusing on people in their 30s and 40s wishing to change career or find employment.

Ms Sonaike believes it is important not to forget about older workers, who may be returning from maternity leave, coming out of redundancy or looking to change career paths.

“There needs to be more for these people,” she said.

“There has to be recognition that people of a certain age are not as self-sufficient as people automatically assume – they need a lot of help.

“I spoke to one guy who was in the travel industry for 25 years and got made redundant; he wants to go back but he is finding it difficult.

“People take one look at you and think they want someone younger and stronger but it is a different skill set that older people offer. Sometimes they will be more stable and reliable.”

More than 300 people attended the inaugural exhibition at Redhill’s Harlequin Theatre to speak to the exhibitors, including East Surrey College and Reigate and Banstead Voluntary Services; with seminars from the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Merstham Community Facility Trust.

Ms Sonaike is keen to present a dossier to Reigate and Banstead Borough Council following the event in the hope councillors will agree to make her exhibition an annual occasion.

“This issue really mattered to people and I have been doing follow-ups with some of the people who were really pleased that there was somewhere they could get advice.

“A lot of people came for advice on how to move to the next level, like career changes, and some people were looking to become self-employed.”

With Surrey and Brooklands evolving into one of the leading business destinations in the South of England, it is an exciting time for entrepreneurs to consider going self-employed.