While unemployment figures in the UK continue to soar, largely thanks to the number of commercial property businesses forced to close on a daily basis, it seems that even those who have already retired are also being forced to join the queues at the job centres nationwide.
It was revealed in figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that, since 1993, the number of employees over the official retirement age remaining in commercial property workplaces has doubled from 753,000 to over 1.4 million in 2011. Significantly, the majority of the rise has occurred in the years since the millennium, coinciding with the end of the years of prosperity in the 1990s.
Additionally, the proportion of workers choosing to work past the retirement age is still increasing, meaning that the number of employees eligible for retirement but choosing to remain in work is rising faster than the UK population as a whole.
There is also a discrepancy between male and female retirement age workers – while 61 per cent of workers above retirement are women, men only make up 39 per cent. The ONS puts this down to the fact that female workers often take a longer break from their commercial property workplace to raise children and take care of their families, meaning that their pension contributions are put on hold for maybe several years at a time.
Of these percentages, two thirds of male workers tend to be in high skill jobs, generally within the service industry, while only a third of women are in roles classed as high skilled. Instead, the majority of women work in retail commercial properties or as cleaners.
The ONS believes that progressions in the health services and medicine play a part in the number of people choosing to work into their late sixties and seventies, as with the death rate increasing more and more British citizens feel capable of continuing in the commercial property workplace until a later age. However, financial reasons cannot be discounted, as lower retirement incomes force many retirees to return to their jobs in order to make ends meet.
Yet Director-General of Saga, Dr Ros Altmann, argues that many older workers are choosing to continue in their commercial property place of work simply because they enjoy their job.
She says; “Many older people are increasingly choosing to stay at work, often part time so they can ease more gently into retirement. If they feel fit and healthy and want more money, and are able to work, they are choosing to do so.
“Saga’s research shows that many of our over 50s already want to work past 65. 71 per cent would like to work part time instead of retiring and in fact 7 per cent are already working past the age of 70.
“This isn’t just for the money – work satisfaction, feeling useful and the social benefits we gain from working were key reasons that people wanted to continue.”
While the current retirement age for women is 60, and 65 for men, the Coalition Government have put through plans to keep workers in commercial properties for longer before becoming eligible for a state pension. By 2020, the retirement age for both sexes will rise to 66, with the aim of increasing to 67 gradually from 2026.
Yet even without the raising of the retirement age, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, Tom McPhail, believes that more workers would choose to remain in their commercial property places of work.
He says; “This is an inevitable consequence of more and more people arriving in their 60s with inadequate retirement savings.
“This trend will accelerate over the next few years; it presents a significant challenge to individuals and employers who will need to find ways to accommodate more flexible working patterns and later retirement ages.”
With a significant shortage of jobs in UK commercial properties, the question must be asked whether an ageing work force will really benefit the country in terms of economics. As more and more employees choose to continue to work when traditionally they would instead collect their state pension, younger workers and graduates will struggle to find the initial job that will allow them to enter the work force.
However, can we really afford to ignore the wealth of experience and knowledge that retirement age workers can bring to the commercial property workplace?
Do you think that workers should continue to do their jobs for as long as they feel capable? Or do you believe that young people should be given priority in commercial property workplaces?