The Town that Never Retired – BBC1

9 Oct

An interesting and thought provoking insight into the challenges many of us are going to face in our later years. Nick Hewer and Margaret Munford, better known as the right hand man and woman of Alan Sugar from The Apprentice, set out to find what was it like working through to your seventies.

Scary thought you might think dragging one’s old bones up at seven in the morning and slaving away to six in the evening. Doesn’t bear thinking about. Unfortunately as the programme pointed out that is the reality for many of us as retirement ages are set to rise to the 70s in the coming decades.

So what would it be like? The Apprentice duo got a couple of retirees to work on a Building site, Restaurant, Chocolate Factory and Estate Agents over 2 weeks.  The pensioners acquitted themselves overall admirably, but it was clearly a case of the “the mind was willing, but the body could not hack it”.  To spice up things they also got a couple of kids looking for their first jobs to work alongside the pensioners to see the difference in what they had to offer.

The Chocolate Factory, which was nothing like Will Wonka’s, was mind-numbingly boring to work at. I  have worked in a factory before so I know what it is like.  The youngsters pretty much said “screw this…I am out”, but the older folk are as you expect were more old school, a school were you don’t approach a job with a sense of entitlement or privilege and where there is dignity in all forms of labour. Admirable qualities but you still need to be able pack a target of what seemed like a 100 of boxes of chocolate a day, which they simply could not do.

The other blue collar jobs, the building site and the restaurant, were similar in that the physical demands they required of their staff was the undoing of the oldies, they realised they could no longer put in the hours demanded of them, even though they had the skills needed.

The one real “victory” was at the Estate Agents.  To be a good Estate Agent (if that’s not an oxymoron) you need a certain amount of empathy, develop a aura of trustworthiness, and little or no muscle, and those are skills that do develop with age. Here the elderly lady did come into her own to a degree, although her parking and navigational skills were pretty suspect.

However you can’t but come away with the feeling that if the camera was not there would the employers be so nice and positive about the experiment. I am not so sure.

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