New Life Builders looking for something to do

By Dave McCaughan

A few months ago a little known café in Devon England got worldwide coverage on the BBC for hiring a waiter. And yes in writing this article the Cantina café is getting more free publicity. But then they are a rare example of a leading edge business. Huh?? Well they did something that the world is going to have to do a lot more often in the near future: they answered an 89 year olds man’s advertisement that he wanted a job.

Joe Bartley did not need the money. He was not fussy about what job he got. Joe just wanted to do something, anything to break the boredom. In a world where most “developed” nations and nearly all others have an ageing population business, marketers and researchers have to get used to the idea that the future means finding more jobs for those of us over 60, 70 and yes over 80 years of age. And maybe the market research industry could be doing it’s part to help identify the reasons, opportunities and advantages to what will become an increasing “return to work” movement.

Carry out a literature review on the subject and you won’t find a lot of data published studies around the subject. Quite simply it is not “trendy”. What has been written in recent years though is fairly consistent. There are (for example) five reasons why someone decides to return to work, look for a new job or a new career:

  1. Fragile Incomes: yes for many the reason to keep on working or return to work is tied to insufficient income, pensions or savings
  2. Unstable markets: what had seemed like good savings don’t look so great in the face of financial instability and reducing interest rates
  3. Generational dependency: in half a century most markets have moved from where children take care of ageing parents to ageing parents need to continue to help out adult children struggling with less certain futures, staying at home, needing help with mortgages etc.
  4. Longevity: we are simply all living much longer and now live in a world where if you are 60 today there is a good chance you have 30 or more years to go, often with a good quarter century of active, relatively healthy life
  5. Engagement: as Joe Bartley said in one of his BBC interviews he was just bored and needed to find something else to do. Or as so many retirees have told me over the years they just wanted to stay relevant, contribute or just learn something new.

Dave McCaughan is storyteller @ Bibliosexual and chief strategy officer at in Thailand

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