Over 50, motivated, seeks

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Losing your job at 50+ is like a small end of the world for many people. Not only is one's own financial and private stability at risk, but finding a new job is usually difficult. Two jobseekers found a temporary solution at Aarbechtshëllef, which for many, however, becomes the final stop before retirement.

"I'm not going to pay him to look out of the window!" It is a sentence that has burnt itself into Alfred's (name changed by the editors) memory. A sentence from the mouth of his former employer, for whom he worked for 15 years. In 2001, the Frenchman came to Luxembourg and started his career as a refrigeration engineer. Then, when he was just over 50, Alfred had a heart attack that triggered what is known as algodystrophy, also called complex regional pain syndrome. Since then, the technician has had problems with one leg and needs a walking aid to cope with numerous situations in everyday life.

"I can no longer walk properly and climbing a ladder is difficult, so working in construction is over for me", Alfred explains. The now 57-year-old spent more than a year in rehabilitation, after which he ended up in the "chômage". "At the time, my doctor recommended a job adapted to my health condition, ideally a job that I could do while sitting. I was told by the health insurance company that I could benefit from an internal reintegration within my company, but my employer had other plans", says Alfred.

Reluctance on the part of employers

It was agreed on an "external professional reintegration", the 57-year-old comments with sarcasm in his voice – in short: Alfred ended up in unemployment. Since the trained technician could not claim a disability pension, was not officially classified as a disabled worker and could not find a new job on the regular, also called first labour market, this meant for him receiving unemployment benefits. Alfred spent a total of five years at home until he finally got a job at the Centre d'insertion et de réinsertion professionnelle, or CIRP, of the Fondation Solina. Today, he works as a driver or in the office and wants to apply for an extension of his contract, but actually Alfred never planned to be dependent on help from special organisms.

"I am a refrigeration technician by trade, but I am no longer allowed to do this work, although the company I worked for before my illness would certainly have had a job for me, because there was always something to work on there." There is not much room on the labour market for people like him, that is just the general rule, says Alfred. Ahsène Atmani from the CIRP's training and job search department can confirm this: "People in the 50 to 65 age group are unfortunately often victims of their own age. The reasons for their unemployment vary, it may be that the company they worked for goes bankrupt, the management changes and prefers a younger crowd, or the course of life gives them a blow from which they struggle to recover. Once they have lost their job, it is usually difficult for them to find a new one, as many employers are reluctant to hire older workers."

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