Almost half of workers in Northern Ireland expect to work beyond 65 to afford their retirement

Age NI and Business in the Community call for ‘career MOT at 50’ to help people adjust future plans & pension savings

47% of workers in Northern Ireland aged 40-64[i] – estimated to be more than 297,800[ii] people – say they will not have enough money to retire when they reach state pension age, according to new YouGov research for the Charity Age NI and Business in the Community.

Published today to launch Age UK’s new public policy paper ‘Creating a career MOT at 50’,[iii] the new research highlights the difficulties facing many workers who cannot afford to down tools when they become eligible for their State Pension. The Charity is calling for government action to help people plan their later working lives and explore how they can put enough money aside for the future while there’s still time to make a difference.

The number of people over 65 years living in Northern Ireland is expected to increase by 74.4% in the next twenty years[iv].  As we live longer, people are increasingly planning to work longer and for many this is in to their late 60s and beyond, with 46% saying they would do so to afford their desired lifestyle in retirement.  More than a third (37%) who believe they will be working past state pension age plan to continue working in their current job with the same hours, while 34% intend to reduce their hours

The research highlights that not having enough money was the most common reason to continue working. Others included enjoying the social side of working (30%) and worrying they would get bored or lonely at home (31%).

But many are concerned about their health or fitness to continue working. Of those who expect to stop working or to reduce their hours before their late 60s, almost three in ten (28%) say their job is too physically demanding to continue working into their late 60s, while a third (33%) expect their health won’t be good enough.

Age discrimination could also have an impact on people’s ability to continue working or change roles. Almost one in four adults aged 40 to 64 (24%) has felt disadvantaged or treated negatively when at work or applying for jobs past the age of 40.  Having a career MOT at the age of 50 appealed to nearly two thirds (63%) of those surveyed, this would include in-depth career and financial planning for retirement.

Age NI and Business in the Community have formed a partnership to support older workers and employers to tackle these issues through the Age @ Work campaign.  There are almost one million people aged 50-64 in the UK who are not working but state that they are willing and would like to work.  Age @ Work aims to support older workers in Northern Ireland to remain in work or return to work in order to help them have enough income, stay connected and have a fuller working life.

Deborah McConnell, Head of Workplace in Business in the Community, said

“We are delighted to be working with Age NI to address this issue.  We hope that by raising awareness of the issues and by supporting both employers and employees that we can bring about real change in the perceptions of older workers.

Our changing demographics mean that it is vital we as employers understand the needs of older workers and adapt the workplace accordingly, in order to be able to attract and retain the skills and experience that this increasing population of our potential workforce offers.  The idea of one job for life and retiring at 65 no longer applies so we need to look at new ways of working.”

Siobhan Casey, Age NI Director of Communications and Business Development, said:

“It’s worrying that retirement seems increasingly unaffordable for a growing number of workers in Northern Ireland. While there are various reasons people choose to keep working, money concerns are the main factor forcing them to work into their late 60s and beyond. At the same time, many feel they will need to reduce their hours or switch to a less physically demanding job.”

“Of course many people choose to stay on at work because they enjoy the social side or want to share their skills. Yet instead of an ageing workforce being seen as a valuable asset, too many older workers continue to face negative perceptions or age discrimination.

“There is a growing need for more guidance to help people plan their future working life and prepare ahead for retirement. We’re pleased that the Northern Ireland workforce support our plan for a ‘career MOT at 50’ to enable them to make informed choices about training, pension provision and future career options.

“As the State Pension age increases, working longer is set to become part of life. We’re urging the Northern Ireland Government to invest in our older workers, tackle barriers to working, and offer mid-career guidance to everyone who requires it.”

Alongside in-depth career and retirement planning advice, the new research shows many people are also keen to receive guidance on how they can boost their savings. Consideration of their pension/savings provision topped the wish-list of things to include in the MOT. This included:[v]

  • A consideration of their pension/savings provision to help them save enough for their retirement – 52%
  • A discussion about what job(s) they might want to do for the rest of their working lives – 47%
  • An assessment of their transferable skills and experience – 42%
  • Support in planning their ideal retirement – 43%
  • The impact of their health on future working prospects – 43%
  • Identifying any skills they may need in the future and options for training – 40%
  • A discussion about different types of flexible working and how to raise that with their employer – 43%

Age NI and Business in the Community is:

  • Urging Employers and Key Decision Makers to commit to creating an MOT at 50 for all people in Northern Ireland

Appealing to older workers, both those in employment and seeking employment to contact them to help support the work of the Age @ Work campaign

[i] YouGov/ Age UK research as above.

[ii] https://www.nisra.gov.uk/sites/nisra.gov.uk/files/publications/MYE16-Bulletin.pdf

[iii] Age UK’s new public policy paper ‘Creating a career MOT at 50’ can be downloaded free of charge from www.ageuk.org.uk.

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