| ONE in 10 jobseekers looking for their first-ever employment are women aged 40 and over, according to a government survey.
Out of the 443,200 people who have never worked and are now looking for jobs, 247,000 are women and 40,300 are over the age of 40, having spent their young adult years raising a family.
And nearly 5.5 per cent of these women – 2,200 in total – are aged between 60 and 65, who would normally be looking forward to their retirement but with their partners out of work and often adult children to support, due to these being unable to find work, are now forced to look for jobs for the first time in their lives.
Out of the 4,500 people aged between 50 and 54 looking for their first job, nearly 4,000 are women, and in the case of the 55 to 59 age-group, a total of 81 per cent of the overall 9,200 are female.
According to Francisco Mesonero, director-general of recruitment centre chain ADECCO, most of the women over 40 who have never worked and are now looking for a job have few or no academic qualifications.
In the case of the younger end of the age-scale, or those whose adult children are forced to live with them or who are caring for elderly parents, their responsibilities in the home prevent them from being flexible about working hours or being able to relocate to take up a job.
Mesonero says that in spite of the lack of formal qualifications these women hold, they are nevertheless usually resourceful, competent, organised and conscientious people who are capable of time management and multi-tasking, and not afraid of hard work.
All this needs to be exploited to the maximum by employers, channelled in the right direction and combined with 'express' qualifications to open more doors to them.
But they are at an extra disadvantage, because the PP government's proposed labour reform includes incentives to companies to take on workers aged 30 and under, but not for those in their 50s or 60s – and despite the fact that 40-somethings are still in their prime, potential employers already often consider them 'too old'.
In many cases, this age discrimination can start from as young as 35.
Mesonero believes the unemployment crisis has not yet hit its lowest point, and expects a further 600,000 jobs to be axed this year.
Jobless figures already exceed five million, and are getting close to a quarter of the population of Spain.