A START-UP school is opening in Dorset for 'olderpreneurs' in a bid to help over-50s create new businesses.

Fifty, sixty and seventy-somethings in Dorset are being invited to join an online school - the Startup School for Seniors.

The project is the brainchild of US-born entrepreneur Suzanne Noble, 60, who came up with the idea of the free, eight-week course as a result of lockdown causing large rises in unemployment for over-50s.

She says that whereas the pandemic affected the younger generation and over 50s the worst, it’s the older generation who will struggle to pick themselves up.

She’s bringing Startup School for Seniors to Dorset - the first outside the capital - after it featured in national media.

Suzanne said: "Covid has changed the employment market irreversibly and made it even harder for workers aged 50-plus to find a job.

"The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has gone up by thousands across Dorset compared to the start of the pandemic, according to Office for National Statistics - in 2020, it shows 15,765 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole as of September 10, compared to just 6,505 in early March.

"Meanwhile, according to the Centre for Ageing, one in four furloughed workers were aged 50 or older, and low re-employment rates for over 50s is a real concern as we emerge from this crisis.

"We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own. When people think of start-ups, they tend to picture high-growth tech businesses launched by 20-somethings, but in reality the decision for many people to set up their own company is increasingly driven by necessity and putting food on the table.

"One positive to come from the last two years is that it can make Brits realise “it’s now or never” and spur them to set up their own business or side hustle.

"People should remember that they have lots of transferable skills that are relevant in the modern workplace.

The online course comprises over 25 hours of video lessons from Suzanne and co-founder Mark Elliott, 57, plus a weekly exploration and collaboration call designed to encourage participants to articulate their business ideas in a safe and welcoming space.

By the end of the course, participants will have improved their digital skills via Zoom, and many will have produced a short-form video to showcase their business.

Startup School for Seniors starts online on Friday January 14, and is free to anyone aged 50 plus, currently unemployed, and recently been made redundant or economically inactive who are resident in Dorset.

Go to startupschoolforseniors.com and complete the application form.