July 16, 2012 2 Comments
Viewing BBC1’s two-part programme ‘The town that never retired’ should be made compulsory for all employers and HR professionals. Shown last week as part of the BBC’s current series on ageing, When I’m 65, it brought into the spotlight many of the issues and stereotypes surrounding older and younger people in today’s workforce.
Episode one was an experiment in sending fifteen people in their seventies back into full time work in Preston. In episode two – and week two of the exercise – the pensioners who remained in the workforce (chosen by their employer based on their first week’s performance) faced competition from genuine young job seekers.
The core focus of the two programmes, facilitated by Margaret Mountford (age 60) and Nick Hewer (age 68) of Apprentice fame, was the fact that in the future millions of people will have to work well into their seventies – although amongst these guinea pigs was a proportion who actively wanted to keep working also.
What emerged from this curate’s egg of part documentary/part reality show was a plethora of insight into many of the key issues including the role played by stereotyping, the importance of motivation in working longer, individual differences in physical ability and desire to keep working full-time, and the role of older people in younger work teams. The role of grandparents as carers also raised the question of who will take over their vital childminding role if they themselves are still at work?
Two messages were particularly clear: first, the importance of skills maintenance and updating for older workers as several of the older people performed less well than they might have done due to having been out of the workforce for a number of years and therefore not up to speed with either technology and/or current skills and standards. Second was our failure to instil sufficient work ethic and work-readiness into some of our younger people, therefore hampering their chances in the workplace.
Overall there were some interesting findings – some surprising, some not – and plenty to debate. We need to be addressing these issues and findings and having these debates in our society right now. Let’s hope these programmes, despite their rather lightweight nature, have helped inspire a few more people to take action.
If you missed these programmes you can still catch them on BBCiplayer