Good guidelines and instructions, giving confidence and showing that it's not the most complicated task in the world to write a CV!  - Undergraduate attending Sian's seminar

So what does 'retirement' mean now for workers?

12th February 2013

Over the last few weeks, we've seen a queen retire at 75, an Olympic gold medal swimmer retire at 23 and now the head of an international church at 85. 

 All of these very diverse people said that part of the reason for choosing to retire was that they felt they could not continue to work at the same level of intensity. Now of course, most current workers carry out very different roles to these high- profile people but the co-incidence of timing has got us all discussing what the right time to retire is and even how should 'retirement' be defined?

I don't join in that spiteful and pointless debate about encouraging older workers to retire to somehow 'leave room' for younger workers to take their jobs.  The age profile of work is clearly pressured at both ends by high youth unemployment and weak pensions and an ever receding date for retirement for all of us. Employment has always and will always be about more than just the financial reward for most workers, so a more productive question might be; what benefits in addition to wages does a job bring me?

Certainly I work with job changers of all ages who have found tremendous satisfaction in leaving behind truly old -fashioned views of what generates job satisfaction and carved out for themselves new careers. People now work in part time or temporary roles, partially qualified or unqualified and learning on the job at every age and in most industries. You may currently be working part time but want full time because that is all you can find right now, but never underestimate the learning that comes from having a variety of work experience to offer. Recruiters are more relaxed now about careers changing directions and supporting older peopel to re-train alongside younger ones. It is estimated that young people entering the labour market now may have as many as 15-20 jobs in different industries over their working life. 

If that prediction comes true, then all of us need to be thinking long term about our capacity to continue to learn and apply news skills. Most of us probably see the over- seventies as deserving of rest, but many eyebrows were raised at the concept that Rebecca Adlington is too old for competitive swimming at 23. Did you hear her continuing passion for the sport in the interviews she gave? She's planning to stay very active in national swimming and focus on coaching children and she wants to be still swimming daily at 90. What a long term career ambition, so best of luck to her.

 She might change her mind later, but for now, she has a medium term plan that busts old definitions of retirement, so maybe she read my last blog.

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