We hear constantly about the demographic time bomb, about the babyboomers who are stealing our prosperity, and about the unsustainable cost of the older generation. But, people are now living longer, healthier and more productively than ever before. The typical 65 year-old in Britain can expect to live another 10 years in health and wellness, before approaching older age. People in their 60s are now more likely to be well qualified, have decades of work experience and have good computer skills.
We need to start thinking in terms of positives, and what this means for our society. We are not, as many would claim, living in a society full of old people. We are, in fact, living in a society where each and every one of us can expect to live longer. This has to be a good thing. So, what are the hidden benefits within a society where people in their 60s are now considered young?
Think of the wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom that builds up over a career. Can we really afford to let this fit productive resource pool go to waste? Think of the benefit to the millions of small businesses across the UK of more experienced workers who are more willing to work flexibly and part-time, and who can accelerate the development of younger workers through the transfer of their knowledge.
Virtually every sector of the UK economy is facing skills shortages, as fewer people graduate each year from academic institutions than are required by employers. More and more will the rhetoric start changing from ‘older’, ‘aged’, ‘retirement’, ‘pensioner’ to one that more accurately reflects the dynamism and potential of the experienced worker.
When retirement was first invented, people didn’t live much longer than the retirement age, and so were inclined to make the most of the time they had left in pursuit of leisure activities. Now, with an additional 10 years plus at your disposal, people need a better plan for living fuller, richer, rewarding lives. People are now more likely to incorporate a midlife career review within their plans and explore how their skills can be put to good use in the most rewarding of ways. Volunteering has long been part of retirement plans, but increasingly, people in their 60s are turning to part-time paid work, self-employment and starting small businesses as preferred ways to find the purpose, self-fulfilment and reward they aspire to.
Camden has a vibrant and rapidly growing local economy, with the second highest small business startup rate in London. 21,000 new jobs are to be created across the borough in the next 7 years. Camden has also at its disposal a resident population of experienced, knowledgeable, qualified people, many of whom are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. We should and can be doing more to raise the awareness and appreciation of this resource in the eyes of local employers.
Trading Times is a confidential online service that matches the skills and availability of people over 50 (and family carers) with the resource needs of local employers – for the purposes of paid flexible work. Trading Times won a national Design Council service innovation award and is backed by Nominet Trust and UnLtd. The service is entirely free for all candidates.