Judith A. Davey 8/09/17
In a previous blog I talked about how the population may change in future, looking at Statistics New Zealand projections. One important trend is the increased participation of people aged 65 and over in the paid labour force. In 2015 I published quite a few blogs on this as I was then involved in a project called Making Active Ageing a Reality. But these did not present information on the industries which older people are working in, their occupational categories or hours of work.
I won’t go over general trends again, but look at industry and occupation data for people 65 plus and full-time/part-time participation from census data.
Older workers, 65 plus, are spread over a wide range of industries, few of them reaching 10% of the total. The largest grouping is in agriculture, forestry and fishing – 14%. This is nothing new and mainly reflects the fact that farmers, most of whom are self-employed, tend to “stay on”. They can regulate their own working hours and bring in labour for tasks which they cannot or do not want to continue doing themselves. There has never been compulsory retirement in the farming sector.
The next highest category is health care and social assistance – 11% of workers 65 plus. This includes doctors, nurses and allied health workers, as well as paid carers and support workers. This is significant given the importance of these groups for the ongoing health and wellbeing of our population. If these workers are ageing there may be shortages of skills when they leave the workforce. According to a Health Workforce New Zealand report, 40% of doctors and 45% of nurses in this country are aged 50 or over. And 54% of the “non-regulated” health workforce – care and support workers – is in the 45 to 64 age group.
A number of further industry categories account for about 6% each of the 65 plus workforce – education and training; retail trade; manufacturing; professional, scientific, and technical services.
Older workers are also found in all occupations, mostly in skilled categories. They are clustered in the following table.
|Workers 65 plus||Number||%|
|Managers and executives||25044||22.1|
|Professionals, including health and education||22896||20.2|
|Clerical and admin workers||12180||10.7|
|Machine, stores, drivers||11385||10.0|
|Labourers and factory workers||11199||9.9|
|Skilled technicians and trades||10854||9.6|
|Care and service workers||10731||9.5|
Source: 2013 Census of Population
The largest categories tend to be managers and professionals, likely to have qualifications and to work in an office environment. These are the “choosers” – see later.
Full-time and part-time work
The image of older workers tends to be that they will work part-time. This is not totally borne out by the figures. While women are more likely to work part-time than men, there have been some interesting movements in patterns of work over the last three censuses (see table). For both men and women there have been increases in the proportions working full-time. This increase was especially marked in the 2006-2013 period. The proportion working part-time has correspondingly dropped for both men and women.
Full-time and Part-time percentages – Workers aged 65 plus, by sex
|Groups %||2001 Census||2006 Census||2013 Census|
As might be expected, the proportion of full-time older workers decreases with age to only 9% for women at 85 plus. But it may surprise some that one in four men who are working at the age of 85 plus are working full-time, probably farmers again.
|Percent of total employed working full-time, by age and sex, 2013 Census|
The characteristics of people who are working after the age of 65 in New Zealand reflect categories which were suggested by the Centre for Research into the Older Workforce (CROW) in the UK.
Choosers – this group is the most amenable to staying on in work. Most are managers or professionals, predominantly male, with high incomes. They often have choices whether to work or not, may do so mainly out of interest and can often stipulate their working conditions.
Survivors – who are motivated strongly by the need for an income. This group typically have few or no qualifications and are in routine and semi-routine jobs. They have little control over their working lives or leverage with employers. If they continue to work it may be in a lower paid and possibly insecure job.
Jugglers – “jugglers” are balancing domestic and caring roles (responsibilities to older parents/relatives and caring for grandchildren) with paid work. Almost all of them are women. They are likely to work in intermediate occupations and to work part-time.
 Davey, J. (2014) “Paid Employment.” In Koopman-Boyden, P., Cameron, M., Davey, J. and
Richardson, M., Making Active Ageing a Reality: Maximising participation and contribution
by older people. Report to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. National
Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato, Hamilton.
 Health of the Health Workforce 2015, Wellington, Ministry of Health 2016
 McNair, S., Flynn, M., Owen, L., Humphreys, C. and Woodfield, S. (2004) Changing Work in Later Life: A study of job transitions. CROW, University of Surrey.