by Tony Clack, founder of leading over 50s web site laterlife.com
Its not often that opportunities to change the course of events and change our lives
for the better come along , but a number of factors are now coming together that offer
that tantalising opportunity, where we can all be winners.
The Over 50s revolution
One can hardly miss the regular reports nowadays about our ageing population: by 2020 40%
of the population will be over 50, and in just 6 years, 4 in 10 workers will be aged over
The horror of the retirement age being raised and of us all having to work longer is now
being widely previewed. As if work hasnt been encroaching more and more on our lives
When I was a teenager in the 60s there was a widely suggested view that technology and in
particular IT would gradually ease our working lives, shorten the working week and allow
us more leisure time. In reality we have all seen the opposite happen with ever increasing
pressures and more time spent working. Now with the prospect of having to work for longer,
can things get any worse?
BUT hang on a moment, there is actually a real opportunity here.
Why an opportunity?
There are a number of important factors and trends:
First of all 50 is no longer old! As we all know, in general, we are
healthier, more active and living longer.
The Government has recognised with their Age Positive campaign the
problem of age discrimination and the huge resource and capability that the over 50s
represent to the economy. Official figures put the cost to the UK economy of age
discrimination at £16 billion per year.
Over 50s typically exhibit a number of important characteristics:
experience, knowledge, skill, self-reliance, loyalty, ideas, creativity and enthusiasm,
all of which are important for work, but especially for a knowledge economy. This is
manifested for example in the fact that entrepreneurial ventures started by over 50s are
more likely to succeed than the average business start up.
Technology enables us to work at least part time from home and many of
us increasingly experience this during our working lives. Also, technology and particularly
email enable us to work easily with other people without being present in the same
location or even present online at the same time. The Internet takes this a stage further,
making it possible to run a business without being present all the time or even tied to
All this is borne out by our experience at laterlife.com where we benefit
by being able to operate as a networked organisation with Associates in all parts of the
country. It works for us because of the high degree of self-sufficiency and initiative of
the individuals involved and because we as an organisation recognise and rely on their
experience and capability.
Most Associates are involved part time, on an entrepreneurial basis and
determine the work/leisure balance to suit themselves. This benefits the lifestyle and
enjoyment of the individual, but also results in quality outputs on each occasion centred
on the Associates interest and expertise. This in turn has strengthened the
reputation that laterlife is enjoying as a quality site.
Grasping the opportunity
There are two key elements in all this, firstly the concept of working part time
What happens if we adopt a gradual approach to retirement in the workplace, cutting down
form 5 days a week, to 4 days, then 3 days etc. but continuing onto 70, rather than the
current falling off a cliff at 60 or 65?
In many respects this is far more logical, our quality of life would certainly benefit and
based on our experience productivity may even increase.
The second element is tapping into the experience and entrepreneurial capabilities of over
50s to start new businesses. If Government action provided a supportive environment for
this, the over 50s could become one of the driving forces for the growth of our economy.
At laterlife we have started discussions with Business Link about running laterlife
business start up events as a small step towards this.
This short article doesnt have the room to cover some of the next level issues,
answers and subsidiary benefits, and indeed doesnt pretend to have all the answers. There is plenty of debate and there are practical issues to be considered, not least tackling
barriers that can make it less attractive for employers to employ part time workers.
However, we do believe at laterlife that there are some important core ideas here and that
if grasped they offer a real opportunity to be innovative and re-think and construct our
working lives in a different, more flexible and more enjoyable way, removing the divide
between being time poor and time rich, to the advantage of society and to each of us as
Yes, let's be working at 70, but let's be working part time or working for ourselves!
Laterlife.com is conducting a short survey on the opportunity outlined in this
article and would very much welcome your views simply click here.