Nearly two-thirds of over 50s say flexible working is best route to retirement

Nearly two-thirds of over 50s say part time working is the best way to retireAround half of over 50s would like to carry on working part time after 65, while 39 per cent of feel that working part time or flexible hours before stopping work altogether would be the best way to retire. According to new research, one in four over 50s said they would be interested in taking a few months off and then returning to work as an alternative to retirement. Meanwhile 36 percent of retirees say their advice to others would be to consider switching to flexible or part time work for a period first before retiring and 33 per cent of over 70s still working said they did so because they enjoyed it. However the poll also reveals some discrimination, with 23 percent of over 50s believing they are viewed ‘less favourably than younger workers’ and 15 per cent experiencing age-based discrimination in the workplace.

The independent YouGov survey of over 2,000 retired and non-retired people aged over 50 which is part of Dr Ros Altmann’s work as Business Champion for Older Workers, shows how the way we view retirement is changing, as well as the challenges that older workers can face.

While the research shows changing attitudes to working later in life, it also shows the challenges that older workers can face:

  • 23 percent of over 50 workers feel they are viewed ‘less favourably than younger workers’, while 51 percent said they that they thought that their employer views older workers ‘as favourably as younger workers’.
  • 15 percent of those not currently retired report experiencing age-based discrimination in the workplace.
  • Amongst those who have been unemployed at some point since turning 50 but are currently working, 41% agreed that their age affected their confidence in applying for jobs, 53 percent agreed that they felt employers were not interested in hiring them because of their age and 23 percent agreed that applying for jobs was difficult because their skills were out of date.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:  “The results show there is no single view of retirement any more, but the message from older workers is clear; employers need to keep up with changes to society and we have to ensure over 50s have the skills in place to continue developing their careers throughout  their working lives.”

Dr Ros Altmann said: “Millions of over 50s have changed their retirement plans in recent years, and now expect to retire later – clearly later life working is very much more important to people than before.

“It is clear that many older people no longer see retirement as turning their back on work. They want to work longer, but shift the pace while still making the most of their skills.

“What’s great is that more employers are now getting the message that older workers can have a valuable role in business, particularly as they increasingly represent their future customers and workforce.”

The poll also showed some evidence suggesting that some non-retired over 50s both in and out of work were ready to build new skills, with nearly half of non-retired over 50s (47 percent) stating they were interested in attending a training course to learn new or update existing skills. Later life training is increasingly important as more people want to work longer.  Lifelong learning and adult re-skilling are vital to a vibrant future labour force.

From April, the Government is rolling out a project that will see ‘older workers’ champions’ introduced into job centres across every part of Britain to help tackle the age discrimination that can lead to much higher levels of long-term unemployment among over 50s than their younger counterparts. Intensive work support will be offered through the scheme with a ‘career review’, digital support for older jobseekers to get online and link-ups with local small and medium sized businesses with vacancies to fill.

This follows the Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action published last year and the appointment of Dr Ros Altmann as the UK’s Business Champion for Older Workers who has been advocating the case for older workers within the business community and wider society.

A new guidance toolkit for employers will also be launched to help them support older staff in the workplace, such as by making changes to working patterns or finding alternative roles for those with age-related health difficulties.