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Dianne Bown-Wilson

in my prime

Chief Executive

Read more about Dianne Bown-Wilson

Blog: Why ‘The town that never retired’ should be compulsory viewing for HR pros


Viewing BBC1’s two-part programme, ‘The town that never retired’, should be made compulsory for all employers and HR professionals.

Shown last week as part of the BBC’s current series on ageing, 'When I’m 65', it brought into the spotlight many of the issues and stereotypes surrounding older and younger people in today’s workforce.
Episode one was an experiment in sending 15 people in their 70s back into full-time work in Preston. In episode two – and week two of the exercise – the pensioners who remained in the workforce (chosen by their employer based on their first week’s performance) faced competition from genuine young job seekers.
The core focus of the two programmes, facilitated by Margaret Mountford (age 60) and Nick Hewer (age 68) of Apprentice fame, was the fact that, in the future, millions of people will have to work well into their 70s – although among these guinea pigs was a proportion who actively wanted  to keep working.
What emerged from this curate’s egg of part-documentary/part-reality show was a plethora of insights into many of the key issues. These included:
  • The role played by stereotyping
  • The importance of motivation in working longer
  • Individual differences in physical ability and the desire to keep working full-time
  • The position of older people in younger work teams.
Debating the issues
The role of grandparents as carers also raised the question of who will take over their vital child-minding role if they themselves are still at work?
Two messages were particularly clear: First, the importance for older workers of maintaining and updating their skills.
Several of the older people performed less well than they might have done due to having been out of the workforce for a number of years, which meant that they were not up to speed with either technology and/or current skills and standards.
Second, there was society's failure to have instilled enough of a work ethic and/or work-readiness into some of our younger people, which hampered their chances in the workplace.
Overall there were some interesting findings – some surprising, some not – and plenty to debate. We need to  address these issues and findings and having these debates in our society right now. Let’s hope these programmes, despite their rather lightweight nature, have helped inspire a few more people to take action.
If you missed these programmes you can still catch them on BBC iplayer
Dianne Bown-Wilson is chief executive of in my prime, a consultancy specialising in the requirements of older workers.
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One Response

  1. Motivating older workers

    These programmes brought to light an interesting issue. With one in five workers now believing that they will continue on into their 70’s before retirement, benefit programmes and schemes need to be adapted to an older workforce. Many organisations are currently swayed towards the younger demographic, but the experience of older generations should not be overlooked and finding benefits that will be valued by both parties can be a tricky balancing act.

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Dianne Bown-Wilson

Chief Executive

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