Pensioners preferring work to rest

Horticulture at vanguard of pensioners' return to work

Over 1,000 pensioners a week are returning to work, many of them in horticulture, according to figures released last week. The Government figures show that since last summer, over 60,000 pensioners have gone back to work. The number of pensioners working has reached almost a million — an increase of 20 per cent from the mid-1990s. A Norwich Union survey suggests up to 34 per cent of people aged between 65 and 74 work, be it full-time, part-time or voluntarily. Communications co-ordinator Louise McCarthy of Lantra, the sector skills council for the environmental and land-based sector, said: “Anecdotally, we’re aware that more and more people are going into horticulture later on in life. We do encourage people in older age groups to enter horticulture.” A joint DEFRA/Lantra research project, Articulating Demand — Skills for Business Review, found that this year 12 per cent of production horticulture workers were over 55, including seven per cent aged 55-60, three per cent aged 61-65 and two per cent aged over 65. The researchers received 89 questionnaires from horticulture industries, including 30 from garden centres and nurseries. DIY chain B&Q has been at the forefront of recruiting older people. It has 6,300, or 19 per cent, of employees aged over 50. B&Q chief executive Bill Whiting said a decision to open a store staffed by over-50s in Macclesfield had been successful “in respect of sales, profit, staff turnover and customer satisfaction. This research also indicates that experience, knowledge and attitude contributed to the quality of service”.

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