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24 septiembre, 2019


Maika Sánchez
Deputy Director of Social Inclusion at Red Cross Spain


“When I look for a job I’m told that we’re no longer any good because we’ve lost our spark. The truth is that with age we have gained self-discipline and organisational capacity”. 49 years of age, participants of the Desafío +45 Spanish Red Cross project



The Spanish Red Cross currently takes part in the Operational Programme for Social Inclusion and the Social Economy jointly financed by the European Social Fund as ultimate beneficiary developing different projects through plans of socio-labour insertion. Some information which backs our development in the POISES is that at the end of this first phase we will have offered welfare services to more than 62,000 people, of which almost 22,000 have been qualified and 26,000 have gained access to a job opportunity. Among the initiatives developed is one specific to people over 45 years of age who have been unemployed for a long time.

Some information that backs this proposal is that according to the Spanish National Statistics Institute, the unemployment rates generally decrease (14.3% in December 2018) and 38% of unemployed people were older than 45 years of age; and 50% of long-term unemployed people were older than 45 years of age. This therefore addresses a highly vulnerable group at clear risk of labour and social exclusion. Can we consider a future in society without their contributions? Can we assume that because they are older they no longer have ability for the labour market? Can we therefore affirm that the group of people over 45 years of age is especially vulnerable?

As well as the accumulation of circumstances which lead to an increase in vulnerability as many of them are women, immigrants, single-parents, in homes with no income, with low levels of education, etc. we see how age is having a great impact when incorporating in or returning to the job market. People who have spent their youth entering and leaving the job market, some more easily than others, see how once the barrier of 45 years of age has been passed, it is not as easy to return. The market becomes rigid. On many occasions not because they have lost their labour abilities after being in a situation of unemployment, rather because of the perception of the job market and the society in general surrounding their “recently acquired limitations” as well as many other elements of inequality and discrimination.


As time goes on, this drama produces other effects which may increasingly take away from people the possibility of finding a job: lack of hope in finding a new job starting by social isolation, the prolonged state of unemployment may discredit the professionals who do not adapt to changes, reduction in intensity of the job search after not receiving offers and not getting access to job interviews causing widespread despondency, etc. hence the need for specific initiatives.

In this context the Spanish Red Cross in 2016 set in motion the specific project to attend to the needs of the group which barely has specific resources in which multiple social vulnerabilities are added, Desafío Empleo +45. Throughout these years, more than 10,200 people have been attended to, whose profile is as follows.

Working with unemployed people over the age of 45 who approach the Red Cross present a characteristic profile marked by the lack of confidence, belief that their reincorporation in the market is more than difficult and with a great ignorance of the job search processes. Phrases like that of a woman of 52 years of age from Seville who brought us a CV with a wide experience in her profession after going onto higher education who told us: “I’m bringing you my CV, but that’s no longer me, I’ve come for a cleaning position”. This makes us see that she had accepted that her situation was not going to change. Another woman of 55 years of age also said “I just wanted to get into bed, cover myself up and not get out”. Thus, the personalised work of acceptance and orientation starts by helping to get the person back to who they were and managing to regain their self-esteem. After this starting point, we work on highlighting the importance of their knowledge and abilities, a valuable proposal which tells us what only that person can bring to a position, an activity which opens up the digital world and knowledge of the current tools of job searching. And to avoid social isolation brought about by long-term unemployment, a methodology which combines individual and group attention is worked on. This system obtains support groups and improves the employability process by way of a more positive attitude which is achieved through the group.

This is shown by declarations from different people: one 50-year-old woman from Huelva tells us “You didn’t see me when I arrived, I’m a different person” or another person who tells us “I know it’s difficult, but I’ve regained my enthusiasm”.


The training is based in one way on the acquiring of the abilities needed to reach their professional objective and in the other way, if necessary, the requalification of people as what they need is updating in the way of carrying out their profession or training courses adapted to the needs of the market and to the demands of the participants with this result, such as a man of 53 years of age in Santiago who said “This course has changed my life”. People must carry out their own personal process in order to be the best version of themselves and as far as possible improve their options of getting a job.

Many of these 10,200 people, specifically 4,400, broke some stereotypes of the job market by getting a job. Another 4,000 have improved their employability by requalifying and are still trying to look for a new job opportunity.

We have learned that it is also necessary to carry out sensitivity work in business environments which make flexible the entry of people who, due to their age, are not treated under the same conditions in their access to the job market.  All this work on plans has gone together with an important job with the environment as part of the group’s difficulties lies in the widespread stereotypes that they suffer and which prevent them from competing in equal opportunities in the job market. It is for this reason that we launched “The Desafío +45 campaign” which has been a participative action carried out by those taking part in the project themselves, where their objective is to dismantle the stereotypes and prejudices that they suffer and highlight their talents and abilities.  They have offered their image and their testimonies in videos which have been spread on networks in order to raise awareness and succeed as far as possible in reverting the negative view associated with age.


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