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Old need a New Deal

Susan Groves's first job on leaving school was as a data inputter, "back in the days when a computer took up a whole room".

That was 40 years ago. It took being widowed and a back injury to make her go back to the world of information technology, via the Portland community computer centre in her home town in Dorset.

After three years' study and an armful of qualifications - and two years into an Open University psychology degree to boot - she would love to work in office administration.

"But no one wants to employ me. I don't even get an interview." Instead she has a "soul-destroying" job on the check-out counter of a local supermarket .

Susan, 57, is a good example of a self-motivated career-changer, who wants to learn but falls through the gaps of Government policy.

She would like to see a programme that ties together training and employment opportunities - rather as the New Deal did for younger people.

"I think us older ones are an untapped resource," she says. "Going by my experience in the supermarket, it's the older ones that turn up regularly and on time and do a day's work."

Susan decided to study psychology after injuring her back as a care worker, but soon realised she needed IT skills first.

She has four more years to complete her degree but would like, even at 61, to find work as a psychologist.

She ploughs on - studying now for her Advanced European computer driving licence - and remains enthusiastic, even as she checks the local Job Centre website, only to discover that it "hasn't been updated for months".

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