BTW 50+: Literature Review and Indicative Guide for Secondary Data Analysis

Funded by: Department for Work & Pensions


October 2008 to April 2009

PSI researchers:

Sandra Vegeris

Deborah Smeaton

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

In conjunction with ageing population trends and an attendant policy encouraging an older workforce, this project will review the UK literature (post 1999) on back to work provision supporting the 50+ population. The review will focus on DWP publications containing empirical evidence, policy and synthesis studies relevant to the population of interest. This will include a review of potential evaluation datasets for secondary analysis (to be commissioned separately). The study will also be informed by evidence from back to work programmes offered by other public, private and voluntary organisations plus academic literature on older workers.

The central purpose of the study is to provide greater insight into how the scope, nature and effectiveness of DWP back to work (BTW) provision supports the over 50s’ return to work, with a view to highlighting barriers and drivers to effective BTW provision, so that such provision can be improved. BTW provision is defined as any DWP related policy, programme, initiative or practice aimed at moving the individual closer to the labour market. This is to include ‘work based support’, as well as provision for skills and training relevant to employment.

Project Design

The project is modelled on the principals of a systematic literature review; however, time and budget limit a full application. The literature follows an iterative protocol using assessment tools that provide a transparent process. All DWP reports will be considered in the review and will be judged on their relevance to the 50+ worker population (0=no relevance; 1=relevance for context; 3=relevance for empirical evidence). Appraisals by two independent appraisers will be recorded on a document appraisal form. Other literature will be assessed for relevance to the review. All references will be recorded in Endnote.

Importance of Research

The review will identify the key factors associated with successful programme outcomes and assess which strategies are most effective for older age groups. The main focus of the review is upon provision for 50-69 year olds but these experiences will be compared with younger age cohorts. Gaps in knowledge and implications of evidence for policy and practice will be highlighted. The literature and data review will also inform the parameters and research questions/hypotheses for a second stage of secondary data analysis of labour market intervention evaluation data.