Guest blog – Working beyond retirement age

This guest blog was contributed by Chris Ball, Chief Executive of TAENThe Age and Employment Network. 

The idea of a given ‘retirement age,’ when most people abruptly cease work, may soon be a thing of the past. While it is important not to exaggerate this trend, we can’t just ignore it.

Every day, it seems, the media carries stories about how people will have to work longer. Sarah O’Grady recently wrote in the Daily Express under the headline, ‘Millions must work forever.’

A sense of proportion is important. Currently more than 90% of people over 65 are not in work and the majority are retired. Of those over 65 who want to work, most are concentrated in the 65-70 age bracket.

However as the state pension age rises, if finances become more difficult and if more employers create age friendly workplaces, we may see more people working much longer.

Nobody has a clear picture of how many pensioners would prefer to be in work. Not entitled to claim unemployment benefit or support from Jobcentre Plus, it seems once claiming the state pension, one is forgotten as a worker.

A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission of people aged 50-59 found that around 60% would like to continue working after state pension age.

One of the problems for older jobseekers is that the labour market is very age unfriendly – despite the abolition of the default retirement age.

Working conditions that are flexible enough to support people who care for others or have health issues are needed. Healthy workplaces, opportunities to learn and supportive approaches to career changes in mid-life are just some of the things employers can put in place.

Cross-generational workforce

Employers need to address these challenges as workforces will become more age diverse. Managers and workers alike will have to get used to working with several generations.

This means understanding their needs, reconciling conflicts and getting the best out of the different knowledge and skill sets that different generations are likely to possess.

For the older jobseeker, present economic conditions are worrying. Thirty six per cent have been claiming unemployment benefit for more than 12 months. They are the age cohort with the biggest problem of long term unemployment.

Whilst one may understand the Government’s wish to help young people not in education, training or employment, more is needed to help the older jobseeker too.

Talk of some older people being obliged to ‘work till they drop’, is worrying. Helping them to work as long as they need and wish to do so would however be a fine objective.

TAEN is running its third 50+ Jobseeker Survey in conjunction with University of Edinburgh Business School. If you are over 50 and looking for work, share your experiences in confidence www.surveymonkey.com/s/TAENSurvey

Find out more about TAEN

Read more about work and learning on the Age UK website 

13 responses to “Guest blog – Working beyond retirement age

  1. I am somewhat surprised by the notion that 60 % would want to work past pension age. I wonder if the question had been, if your pension was good enough that you did not need to scrimp, would you want to work past pension age

  2. It might be that those who are physically able will want to go on working but realistically after the age of 70 it would be veryhard for anyone to work full time. They could,and probably will,find some kind of self employment, house minding,dog walking,tidying small gardens, child minding. My sister is 68 and has a nice little income from child minding for a few hours each day. She is a fully trained nurse of course.Fit and healthy people over 65 will want to be usufully and gainfully employed. Retired teachers can give private lessons.those with IT skills can work from home. I feel we will meet this challenge and I feel every help should be given to those who are prepared to do some kind of work : such as leave them alone to get on with it,no forms or penalties for helping themselves.

  3. What about young people? The longer older people work the less jobs for the young, isn’t it selfish to deny them the chance of working for a wage and starting to save for their pension? Thousands are living on benefits they have not paid in one penny for and the 500,000 women targeted by the unfair second pension age rise have worked from 15 years of age and will have paid in 50 years of contributions by the time they can claim their pension. They ARE being forced to work until they drop as they had no chance to save for a private pension, Many have age related complaints, so let those who want or need to retire, do so, on a basic pension, let those who are fit enough to work on do so. I’m 65 and worked hard all my life and am only too glad to let younger people have the chance to have their turn as I know they can give more to an employer than I can, it stands to reason we slow down the older we get. I met up with 5 friends the same age as me, not one of us would be able to give as much to an employer as would a younger person. We have earned and paid in for our state pension and should not be made to feel guilty for taking it!

  4. If people want to work past the retirement age don’t stop them. However, people should not be forced to do it. I have just turned 60 and have several health problem that made me give up work – I just cannot handle the commute to and from work each day. I am still hanging out to hopefully receive my state pension at age 65. No Compulsion!

  5. Working beyond retirement age is constantly being portrayed as a great opportunity for the older person. Great if you have an office job but consider those in hard manual occupations. I have a manual job and I am finding the work increasingly hard. As mentioned in Ruth’s comment above, I have age related complaints and these will not get any better. I am also one of the 500.000 women being FORCED to work longer. Our retirement age has been unfairly increased for a SECOND time. If you are fit and healthy and want to continue working then that is fine, and you should be helped and encouraged. However there are thousands of people, who for various reasons cannot or do not want to continue working. We shouldn’t be made to feel that we are just a drain on society. We have played our part and paid our way.

  6. Even working in an office job in your late fifties takes it out of you. I work full time and my travel time to work is an hour there and back. I am exhausted by Friday in a way I never was ten, even five, years ago. God knows how I can work till my SECOND state pension age increase to 66 and with only a few years notice about it. Working after retirement might be ok if you have your health, but most of us, especially women, are not in good health as we get to our fifites and sixties. There is a petition to get the retirement age changed back on 38 degrees website.

  7. What is with some people who just can’t seem to accept that by the time they finally get to retirement age most workers are only to glad to retire, yes some people want to, and do, work on longer but surely they are in the minority.I for one have no intention of working one moment longer than necessary, I’ve already been robbed of 17 months of freedom and state pension through this government breaking it’s coalition promise not to raise the SPA again before 2020 so there’s no way I’ll be choosing to keep working after 66, that’s if I ever reach the golden age and earn my begrudged retirement!!! My message to people who think it’s desirable to work until they draw their last breath is this – Get a life!

  8. The Prince of Wales runs an excellent charity specifically for ‘older’ people who are bored with retirement, or those over 50 who are discriminated against in the workforce…its called ‘Prime dot org dot uk’ and its full of advice on starting a small business or working for yourself….and its free!

  9. I and most of my colleagues are well over retirment age – but we all enjoy working (& getting paid) in a historical visitor attraction. We all work either 5 or less days per week from 11a.m. to 5p.m. and it’s great fun. No disrespect to the younger generation, but not many of them a really interested in history and talking to people on many and varied topics.

  10. I was made redundant in January and have tried to get work, ageism still exists, of that I am certain. Why do employers think we are too old in our sixties? We are certainly more reliable . I loved my job but the government decided to close our organisation down and put hundreds of people out of work. Have decided to work for myself.

    • MF – go for it! Prime are brilliant, and jobcentres in some areas run a scheme specifically geared at 50+ who want to go self employed …only in some areas though..they give you help putting a business plan together to see if it will work, then 26 weeks ‘test trading’ (on benefits if you’re eligible) – and there is also a scheme whereby unemployed can get a £1000 startup loan too…but sadly, its up to local jobcentre staff to decide which of these schemes they run in their area. Works well for e.g. my friend, who had looked after her mother for 5 years , spent all her savings, and was unable to find work in her old role (medical receptionist) …and I agree, the Ageism is atrocious!

  11. Keep an eye out for the Pension Credit Guarantee age – it was 60 but increasing to 65 over time. If you can’t find a job or find that working for yourself is not your bag, then check out the PCG system – it might even pay the interest on your mortgage if you have one.

  12. Good point Pierre, think a few people may get their fingers burnt by not knowing the Pension Credt Guarantee

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