Jan 04

Working for as long as possible and working for nowt

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It was good to hear that BBC  Radio4 Woman’s Hour, in the first week of this year, giving air time to the difficulty men and women in their 50s and 60s are having finding any sort of job right now.

Of course, it was never easy for this age group to hang onto a job or get a new one at the end of their working lives, when so many of their younger colleagues (however officially non-ageist) had eased them into the ‘out to grass’ compartment.

Today most of those in this work vulnerable age would probably agree it is fairer to give a job to someone younger who hasn’t been had a chance yet to shine,  given their  very frustrating time in finding proper1 work in this recession.

Financial provider and retirement specialist LV have just issued some interesting statistics to do with older workers.  Here are some:

  • 4.5m women over 50 expect to retire later compared with 2.4m men who also expect to retire later.
  • The number of over 50s planning to work past the state retirement age (still 65 years until 2028) is up over 40 per cent on those who wanted to keep working over 65 in 2010.
  • These people expect to stay working for an extra 6.2 years on average.
  • Men plan to work nearly seven years past 65 on average, compared with the near six extra years women intend.

In the recent past if you hadn’t saved enough for a good pension then you tended to keep working for as long as possible. Now I fear the recession means that for many this will no longer be an option with worrying consequences especially when retirement back up sources of welcome but bitty income dry up – part time, ad hoc, helping out.

Many a would-be worker will find that they won’t be allowed to work for as long as they wish, unless the economy improves markedly. There is  hope of continuing to earn something if they are established self employed.  The message for those lucky ones with any sort of  job(s) is to go for austerity now, build on savings and hope there will be sufficient to live on when retirement looms.

As cold as charity

Charitable works are still not seen by many as cool. The Victorian/do gooding image dies hard, which is a shame. As any rational soul knows, charity work offers rewards for everyone.

An alternative to paid work is unpaid work and thousands would never before have been drawn to charities in the recession but are now stuck in on the basis that helping someone is a great deal better than sitting in unsplendid isolation in one’s comfort zone, TV on,  feeling unwanted.

The irony here is that – wait for it – even unpaid work as a volunteer is harder to find than it once was. I heard tell that one midlands charity isn’t taking volunteers for the time being as applicants have mushroomed to such an extent that it can’t even cope with the CRB checks.

Charities  always want their life blood – fund raising or organisers of fund raising – but this often doesn’t suit the over 50s who feel inhibited by cold calling the punter and badgering for donations, not to mention grappling with the thought of anyone cycling to Paris and back anytime soon.

Paid counselling is one of the retrain choices of the recession and there is a need for volunteer counsellors.  But I can’t help wondering how much use could I or my middle class sort be to a stroppy youth from a tough estate near Waterloo?

Perhaps it would not be too frivolous to suggest that just as the young have started up their own businesses in huge numbers as a way of solving their under employment, then setting up your own charity could do the same thing – occupation, autonomy while making a difference.

I will always admire that woman who was so horrified by all the shop doors being left open in the winter in Cambridge to encourage shoppers to call that she set up her own charity and had a big success persuading the likes of Next and M&S to keep their doors closed and the nation’s heating consumption down.

Sadly today the charity shops in my suburban high street continue to let their open doors welcome the cold.




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