Baby boomer Britons reject traditional retirement

May 30 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Nearly six out of 10 baby boomer Britons want to work beyond the normal state pension age but two-thirds find it impossible to get a job within 10 years of retirement as firms still seek to put employees aged over 50 out to pasture.

Research conducted by Heyday shows that Baby Boomers in Great Britain (those born between 1946 and 1965) are intent on reinventing retirement with many people no longer following a traditional pattern of working up until the state pension age and then retiring full time.

Heyday is a new membership organisation set up by the charity Age Concern to fulfil a similar social and political function as the American Association of Retired Persons.

The findings of its survey of 1,770 people show that 58 per cent of those in their fifties and sixties who are currently working want to continue to work in some capacity beyond retirement and one in 10 don't want to retire at all.

But their hopes of longer working lives could be dashed because nobody is listening to their needs and expectations.

Almost two-thirds said it is impossible to get a new job within 10 years of retirement
Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) said it is impossible to get a new job within 10 years of retirement because the culture of the workplace fails to recognise the knowledge, experience and aspirations of the Baby Boomer generation.

These survey comes at a sensitive time for the government, which is determined to persuade people to work longer and save more to fund an ageing population.

Ailsa Ogilvie, Director of Heyday said that a 'quiet revolution' was taking place in the UK as baby boomers reinvent traditional notion of retirement.

The baby boomer generation want to make the right choices to prepare for a very different kind of retirement to that experienced by their parents and grandparents, she said.

"They want to create a new life for themselves and their families, but they need to find the financial and lifestyle framework that will allow them to do this."

But while calls for a new type of retirement may be growing, it is clear that employers are not listening.

As separate research by recruitment company Executives Online has found, many firms are too keen to retire their senior executives when they reach the age of 50 in favour of fast rising management trainees and younger staff.

"If the Government wants people to work longer then it must also encourage a business culture where older workers are actually valued and retained by firms," said Norrie Johnston, Managing Director of Executives Online.

"There are people out there that have built up skills and experiences all their working lives, only to be literally sent out to pasture when they are arguably at their peak in the business world."

According to Executives Online, the statistics bear this out. Nearly six out of 10 of those who describe themselves as fully retired actually retired before the state pension age.

However, of those that are fully retired, almost four out of 10 felt that retirement had been forced upon them. Although this was often down to ill health, nearly a third said that they had been made redundant.

"The Government and employers have put so much focus on recruiting and training young people with new ideas that they have forgotten that what companies often need to guide them through major changes and difficult challenges is an old head on young shoulders," Norrie Johnston added.

On the other hand, with the UK's low rate of unemployment, companies are finding it difficult to recruit younger candidates for their most senior positions Ė something that is a powerful stimulus for organisations to lose some of their inhibitions when it comes to employing older managers and directors, particularly as older applicants may actually prove to be better suited to the job.

Nevertheless, as Age Concern's Gordon Lishman pointed out, the situation is unlikely to improve radically until society as a whole changes its attitudes.

"People want part-time work, or a new career direction, or maybe to go back to college or go travelling. But society is not geared up for it - it doesn't yet realise the aspirations of people like me."