Retirement doesn’t always have to signal the end of professional life and recent research has indicated many workers are redefining it as a way to switch gears on the career front as opposed to grinding to a halt.
A survey conducted by HSBC on the future of ageing revealed more than 60 per cent of people wanted to work in some way after they retired and that many were hoping to work part-time, but found most employers were less accommodating to part-time or mature workers.
One north-east company with an encouraging attitude towards a more mature generation of workers is Hydro Group, a subsea technology company. As well as operating a highly-effective graduate and apprentice scheme, they also have in place flexible working solutions to accommodate a team which includes five workers over the age of 60, two of whom are older than 65.
Jim MacDonald, who retired last year at 60 years old, is one of the five and has been a worthy addition to the technical team at Hydro Group.
Jim, who had previously worked at FirstGroup for over 30 years, firstly as a driver then as an administrator and digital marketing designer, applied for the technician position at Hydro Group not long after his retirement and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome having had no previous technician experience.
He said: “I never really expected to get another job at my age so the offer was a surprise. I wanted to try something new and challenging but wanted it to be less demanding of me in regards to working shifts. Once I had been offered the position, I came in and we worked out hours which would suit me. In the past, I worked varying shifts which didn’t always allow extra time to do other things.
“I had never done technical work of this kind before but I received full on-the-job training and being part of a close team has helped me learn quicker. I can’t stress enough what a great team and atmosphere there is and I hope to carry on working after I hit 65.”
Jim, who has worked at the Hydro Group headquarters for almost a year now, is also a published childrens’ book illustrator and says the consistent working hours allow him to enjoy his lifetime hobby. He has even been asked to produce a large-scale painting for Hydro Group’s new premises, opening later this year at Aberdeen Science and Energy Park in Bridge of Don.
Irene Buxton, Human Resources Director, said: “Jim has been a great asset to our team. At Hydro Group we feel it is important to provide flexibility and adapt to our employees needs. I think that once people have reached a certain stage in their lives they don’t always want to be made to work, but they don’t want to be made to retire. Older workers offer a range of skills attained from previous jobs and life experience which enhance our culture.”
Another study from investment firm Charles Schwab found that 71% of 44 to 62 year-olds wanted to work in retirement. Working after retirement allows people to take on challenges that they hadn’t entertained previously, and with the UK at the height of the recession it’s not a bad time to take on extra work and look to the future.