The phenomenon of the retired interns

by Ilaria Lonigro - 2015.02.13
The phenomenon of the retired interns
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The Benjamin Button phenomenon – old people getting younger – is exploding across Europe, to the point where an increasing number of companies are hiring interns in their sixties. The truth is that these sprightly and lively 'new style' pensioners don't want to end their days watching TV on the sofa. They believe they still have a lot to say so they want to prove it professionally, even part-time. It's a way to feel as though you're still in the running and it supplements the pension, which doesn't hurt.

Among them are those who work in call centres – or iron shirts for their neighbours. Some raise money for charity and others work as estate agents. Many return to their old companies to train new recruits.

In Switzerland, for example, 'Rent a Renter' (which means 'rent a pensioner') is a community that has had great success in getting older people, who turn up with their photo and details, to offer their expertise. Some sell tax advice, some help in the kitchen. They even have a ship's captain for boat trips on the lake and 'adoptive' grandparents. That's right: many older people really want a grandchild and, if they don't have one, they offer to accompany 'adoptive' children to the zoo or bake biscuits with them.

Kijiji, the Italian jobs website with a million users daily, saw job-seeking posts (including for part-time work) from applicants aged over 65 increase by 21% between 2012 and 2013.

This phenomenon is making employers especially happy. Particularly because older people have fewer family obligations, seeing as their children have long since left the nest. They're more cooperative because they're no longer trying to climb the career ladder. Plus, they don't know the meaning of absenteeism. In short, what's most important to them is to be and feel useful.

Linossier Raphael, president of the French employment agency J4S, says: “In the past 10 years, there have been a growing number of retirees who are applying for temporary positions, a trend that has increased in the past five years by more than 1% a year.” The same signals are coming from the French headquarters of Adecco, a leading recruitment agency.

“People retire at the age of 65 when they're at their peak. They want to consume and travel; some are widowed or divorced and want to find love again, so what with restaurants and hairdressers, their expenses rise,” continues Linossier. Of course, this isn't the case for pensioners who struggle to make ends meet. They need any kind of work, even unofficial, to pay bills and buy their shopping.

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