Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.
The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.
“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.
Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study
The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.
“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.
“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”
Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.
Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.
“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.
“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”
“A whole new workforce”
Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.
Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.
“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.
“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”
“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”
Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.
“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.
It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.
“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.
This article was originally published in SmartCompany.
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