Christine Webber

In January, as you might recall, the chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, urged retired people to consider returning to the workplace. He seemed particularly interested in those who had left their employment during the pandemic. 

Clearly, the government find it worrying that one fifth of working age adults in the UK, that is those aged 16 to 64, are classed as “economically inactive”.

Mr Hunt said: “Excluding students, this amounts to 6.6 million people, an enormous and shocking waste of talent and potential”. 

Well, how do we feel about this?

It’s true that many individuals retired early during the coronavirus outbreak. For one thing, a sizeable number of older adults were suffering from long Covid. But others, as so many of us did, used the lull in normal life to reappraise their situations and downgraded the importance of work.

However, it’s entirely possible with the current cost of living crisis that some people, including those over 64, may come round to the idea of going back to work.    

Those who do, are likely to be spoiled for choice as there are labour shortages everywhere. Certainly, it seems to me that almost every cafe, restaurant and pub in East Anglia is advertising for staff. And the situation is similar in the retail sector. 

As I’ve said before in this column, there are many bonuses to working on into older age. Having a schedule gives us a sense of purpose and this often helps us to feel younger in body and spirit. So, it’s an idea worth considering.

However, I’m sure many folk would want to do something very different from their past career.

Years ago, a delivery man came to my front door with the washing machine I’d ordered. He was well past the first flush of youth, but very fit looking and enthusiastic, and amazingly decisive and competent.

We got talking and he told me he’d been a chief executive of a major financial institution until a couple of years before.

Retirement though had not suited him. He felt “redundant”. He also worried that he was ageing fast and drinking too much.

His solution was to take a job as a van driver for an electrical store. Unlike his years in the financial sector, he felt there were no pressures on him, so he longer had to take home any work worries, and he enjoyed meeting people and being busy.

Also, he cancelled his expensive gym membership because hefting white goods around kept him in shape. “It’s a win-win situation” he told me.  

I really admired his attitude, because he had solved a problem by thinking well outside the box of his own experience – and he was a contented man.

Nowadays, there’s plenty of advice and inspiration on the internet about late careers.

The website is particularly good. They maintain that the over 50s are an attractive option to employers because they bring experience, a serious work ethic, confidence and efficiency to the workplace.

Take a look at the information on their site if you’re retired and want to return to work, or in a career, but seeking a change.

There are far more options available than most of us realise.

For example, teaching is a profession that many people go into later in life. It’s one where you can transfer skills across from previous occupations, and there are various routes into it. There are also vacancies for teaching assistants.

The NHS is seriously understaffed, and you don’t need to be medical to work for them. There are 350 different careers to be had in the health service – so there’s almost something for everyone. If you’re interested, start at

You may of course feel you’ve had enough of bosses and want to branch out on your own. Maybe you have an aptitude for painting and decorating, or gardening. Many of us wait ages to get someone to do these kinds of jobs for us, so there’s obviously a demand.

Could you turn a hobby into a business?

Also, there are good careers to be had in funeral services. Often, grieving people prefer talking to someone who’s older and has experience of the ups and downs in life. Could this be for you? 

Or what about jobs in local and national government? I noticed on the Rest Less website that there are 2,535 vacancies in the Civil Service alone.

Finally, just in case you’re thinking that you’re somewhat past your sell-by date to go back to work, let me tell you about ballerina Alessandra Ferri. 

She had a stellar career with the Royal Ballet and other notable companies before retiring, aged 44, in 2007. However, she missed dancing so much that she returned to work at the Opera House, and in 2015, had a stunning success in a major new ballet, Woolf Works, created by Wayne Macgregor.

Now, at almost 60, she is still working and last week she starred in a revival of that ballet to rave reviews.

How wonderful that she’s still in the limelight. It’s inspiring. And Jeremy Hunt should be pleased.