A recent article in the New York Times featured the work of ReServe, an innovative nonprofit organisation that links people over 55 with meaningful second careers. As a model for what is needed to address the nature of later life careers for a sector of the UK population ReServe appears to have much to offer. It is founded on the notion of skilled, paid work for over 55s which is useful, fulfilling – and valued.
ReServists are given responsibilities that allow them to use their skills, which doesn’t always happen with volunteering. Some ReServists use the same skills they always did ― retired accountants, for example, are apparently very popular; but most of the time, the ReServe career is something new.
The pay is low ― $10 an hour. But ReServe never uses the word volunteer; it’s work and the pay matters – on a number of levels. ReServe also requires organisations to pay because it ensures the work is valued.
ReServe began in 2005, and now operates in Miami and Westchester in addition to New York City, with plans to develop elsewhere. According to the article, hundreds of retired professionals are currently on a waiting list to be matched with meaningful part-time jobs in schools, libraries, hospitals and other city agencies and nonprofits.
“The concept of retirement is fading,” said Mary S. Bleiberg, ReServe’s executive director. “There is a steady increase in people over 65 going into or staying in the workforce. People are realizing they’re going to be around a lot longer, and there’s a limited number of golf clubs they can swing.”
Intuitively one feels that enduring solutions for later life working will come from a proliferation of such initiatives rather than merely extending the timespan of existing career structures.