Brown J, Neary J, Katikireddi SV, Thomson H, McQuaid R, Leyland AH, Frank JW, Jeavons L, de Pellette P, Kiran S & Macdonald EB (2015) Protocol for a mixed-methods longitudinal study to identify factors influencing return to work in the over 50s participating in the UK Work Programme: Supporting Older People into Employment (SOPIE). BMJ Open, 5 (12), Art. No.: e010525. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010525
Increasing employment among older workers is a policy priority given the increase in life expectancy and the drop in labour force participation after the age of 50. Reasons for this drop are complex but include poor health, age discrimination, inadequate skills/qualifications and caring roles; however, limited evidence exists on how best to support this group back to work. The Work Programme is the UK Government's flagship policy to facilitate return to work (RTW) among those at risk of long-term unemployment. ‘Supporting Older People Into Employment’ (SOPIE) is a mixed-methods longitudinal study involving a collaboration between academics and a major Work Programme provider (Ingeus). The study will investigate the relationship between health, worklessness and the RTW process for the over 50s.
Methods and analysis
There are three main study components. Embedded fieldwork will document the data routinely collected by Ingeus and the key interventions/activities delivered. The quantitative study investigates approximately 14 000 individuals (aged 16–64 years, with 20% aged over 50) who entered the Ingeus Work Programme (referred to as ‘clients’) in a 16-month period in Scotland and were followed up for 2 years. Employment outcomes (including progression towards work) and how they differ by client characteristics (including health), intervention components received and external factors will be investigated. The qualitative component will explore the experiences of clients and Ingeus staff, to better understand the interactions between health and (un)employment, Work Programme delivery, and how employment services can be better tailored to the needs of the over 50s.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval was received from the University of Glasgow College of Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (application number 400140186).
Results will be disseminated through journal articles, national and international conferences. Findings will inform current and future welfare-to-work and job retention initiatives to extend healthy working lives.
Longitudinal; older workers; Work Programme;
BMJ Open: Volume 5, Issue 12