Construction Needs to Be More Creative About Retirement

For as long as most of us can remember, retirement at 65 has been the expectation and the norm. Reach your 65th birthday, hang up your high-vis or switch off your computer for the last time and off you go – taking everything you’ve learned during a long career with you.

Is automatically stopping work completely at the state pension age what people want, or is it just what they expect to happen? And when nearly a fifth of the construction workforce is set to retire in the next five to ten years, is it something that construction employers can afford to just let happen?

For many, the thought of carrying on doing exactly the same job full-time won’t be appealing. Most people relish the opportunity of having more free time and a bit of a well-earned rest. But over half a million people over 70 in the UK still do some form of paid work. Many others do unpaid and voluntary work because they want to keep active.

Work and Wellbeing

Working later in life has been shown to have health and wellbeing benefits. But UK firms in general, and construction contractors in particular, haven’t been good at finding creative ways for older workers to carry on working in some form.

This needs to change. The skills shortage and the number of new people who will enter the sector in the coming years will mean that experience is at a premium. In a lot of cases, people with potential may have to be promoted into a role for which they don’t have enough experience. Mentoring or training programmes using older employees would be one way to bridge the experience gap.

Diversity Also Means Older Workers

Attracting millennials to construction is vital to the sector’s future. We also need to become much more diverse in the people we employ. And this must surely extend to retaining those nearing the ends of their careers.

Flexible working and career reviews would help people to plan a more gradual wind-down to retirement while retaining badly needed skills and knowledge within the industry. Alongside this, there needs to be more help with retirement planning, including how to manage finances most effectively with a mix of employment and pension income.

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