Expert on the ageing workforce. Researcher at Newcastle University's Centre for Research on the Older Workforce (CROW)
Dr Chris Ball is a Research Fellow in the Department of Business Studies at Newcastle University where he specialises in research on the opportunities and challenges of workforce ageing. He is now working with the Centre for Research on Older Workers (CROW) at Newcastle and Hull Universities and currently engaged on a European Union funded project, ASPIRE (Active Ageing through Social Partnership and Industrial Relations Expertise). Chris was previously Chief Executive of TAEN - The Age and Employment Network, National Secretary of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union and in his early work life, a Physics Teacher.
Studies have shown that retirement is linked to less physical activity, changes in dietary patterns (eating less fresh fruit and vegetables for example), more alcohol consumption and less social interaction. Once we leave the routine of working life, the habits of a lifetime may be thrown overboard. The happy hour may start earlier, lunch may linger and that early morning brisk walk for the train we have lost, may eliminate our day's dose of strenuous exercise.
If ever proof were needed that it is not possible to "have cake and eat it" over the EU, here it is. I refer to the revelations last week about the details of migrant controls (in a leaked Home Office paper) which prompted business concerns at the "catastrophic" consequences for employee recruitment in a range of sectors.
Though most other "isms" were piled on the ballot scales at some point in the USA Presidential election, ageism never seemed much of a factor with the electorate. Perhaps this was because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were well beyond what we still laughingly call, "normal retirement age".
The reviews of <em>I, Daniel Blake</em>, have already made Director Ken Loach's case for an Oscar, but if such a thing existed, the film would merit an award for critically explaining an aspect of public policy - in this case, the UK's welfare to work system. While Loach's insight into the condition of the poor in twenty-first century Britain speaks for itself, the policy background is less familiar.
Policies which reflect changing generational challenges as well as needs, interests and capabilities must be part of any sensible, pragmatic, humane approach to working and ageing throughout the life course.
Theresa May's plans to reintroduce selection of children at eleven conjures up memories I thought I had forgotten. Sixty years ago is a long time, but believe me I still feel the pain when I think about the eleven plus exam.
The dice falls unevenly and the inequalities in society could hardly be more vividly expressed than in the health and dignity of older people in later life. Not all the years of extra life we are enjoying will be in good health.
If the Brexit campaign wins, the young will live through the remaining years of the 21st Century on the fringes of Europe, part of the same continental shelf but for all our country's influence, on a different tectonic plate. The young are the ones who will have to live with the decision far longer than you. Listen to them before you vote, or better still let them decide it.
British society, Japanese society - the super ageing workforce will demand common sense liberal measures in both cases. We can learn a lot by considering how other people do things, despite our cultural differences - or maybe because of them.
Yesterday I attended a meeting of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) together with various Jobcentre Plus and DWP people in Stoke on Trent. Its purpose was to consider the above question. The Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb, was not there (he sent a supportive message).
They are more likely to be following the maxim, "Live longer, work longer," but how much work do they actually do? Being "self-employed" may seem preferable to being "retired" and definitely better than "unemployed," even if many of the self-employed are in tiny jobs, working only a few hours a week. In truth, some may be happy with that, but not all are.
We will be looking for policies for working carers as well as decent standards in the design of work, lifelong learning / job training, flexible working, and benefits which generally support the health and financial security of employees.
One problem is that ageing workers are widely seen as "a burden" with the focus of attention being on their chronological ages rather than their work capacity (or, to use an increasingly recognised concept, their work-ability) which can vary enormously from worker to worker of the same ages.