Opinion

Any firm with the opportunity to employ an older worker should grasp it with both hands

4 min read

09 November 2015

Albert Einstein famously once said, "the only source of knowledge is experience" and while I’d have a bit of trouble getting my head around some of Einstein’s mathematic equations, that’s a statement every Tom, Dick and Harry will understand and know it’s true.

Experience can be the difference between failure and success in business. Couple it with an equal amount of raw enthusiasm and talented younger employees then you’re creating a perfect storm in which to generate the power to drive an enterprise forward.

It’s a formula that has proven to be very successful for Pimlico Plumbers – more than ten per cent of our workforce is over the age of 55. However, older workers don’t have to be confined to the 55 to 65 age bracket. 

According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) just over a quarter of a million 70-74-year-olds in Britain are currently employed. This is up from 123,000 in 20015 and 100,000 at the start of the 21st century.

That’s fantastic news for businesses up and down the country. At Pimlico we have my PA, Mario, who at the age of 72 is still as sharp in mind as he is in body, which is pretty sharp when you consider that he ran across the Sahara Desert in 2014.

Read more about employing younger or older workers:

And, of course, my driver, 85-year-old Eric who can weave his way at the wheel of my Bentley around the streets of London as if he was a 21-year-old controlling a smart car.

If every business had an Eric or a Mario the world, undoubtedly, would be a better place. Any firm that has the opportunity to retain or employ an older worker should grasp it with both hands. Not only do they bring years of experience that makes them a steady pair of hands, they can also be an excellent influence on younger members of staff.

According to the DWP statistics, the jump in the number of over 70s in work is part of a broader rise in the number of people aged over 50 that are in employment. And it’s not just those picking up pay checks that are boosting workplaces up and down the country. ‘Grey-preneurs’ are doing their bit by starting and running new enterprises.

In 2012 almost a quarter of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs 55 and older and I am sure that number is growing. Again, it is experience that drives them on. They may not be experienced at running a business, but they have put in the years on the job and the ups and downs they will have no doubt gone through throughout their life are the perfect preparation to run a business.

They, of course, may still need the same support, guidance, mentoring and, where appropriate, funding to get their enterprise off the ground, but their age should be a benefit and not a disadvantage to their business aspirations.

As the figures are proving, age is no longer a barrier when it comes to working and we should celebrate and embrace the drive and motivation of these important members of the UK workforce.