Untapped Potential in Seniors Willing to Work in Finland

By Anni Erkko

4 min. read

The article was written by Anni Erkko for Kauppalehti on March 21, 2023. The article was updated on April 11, 2023.

There is a vast untapped potential in seniors willing to work in Finland.

"For example, in Japan, where the aging of the population is more advanced than in Finland, up to 60 percent of men aged 65-74 are employed. That's a really significant figure. If we think about Finland having 70,000 people in that age group, and if 60 percent of them were working, that would be 400,000 people. This is an extreme example because in Japan, there is an economic necessity to work during retirement," says Jouni Vatanen, a researcher at Ilmarinen.

In Sweden, just under 40 percent of those under 68 and on old-age pension are employed. In Finland, in 2021, 130,000 individuals under 68 receiving a work pension were working. This figure includes those receiving partial old-age pensions and part-time pensions.

"If we could reach the numbers of our neighboring country Sweden, that would already be a tremendous potential. For example, the general attitude towards working in retirement is much more positive in Sweden than here. That's something I wish for us as well," says Vatanen.

Ulla Soininen, CEO of Onnex, a company that connects seniors with work opportunities, says she has not encountered age-discriminatory attitudes.

"There might be some really fast-paced or physically demanding tasks where retirees aren't the top choice. Generally, retirees are well-received. They are very ready: they know how to work, get things done, and be present in the workplace," says Soininen.

According to Jouni Vatanen, age discrimination still exists. One in ten retirees has faced it.

"A more significant issue is that many feel that the workplace atmosphere hastened their retirement. If there's no need to work for income, and there are unpleasant things at work, people retire early," says Vatanen.

Voting with their feet
According to Ulla Soininen, workplaces that are appreciative, tolerant, and fair are the ones that attract retirees.

"These aspects become more critical when basic income is secured by a pension. If there's a problem in these areas, it drives people away from the workplace. They greatly appreciate the freedom to choose, and at this point, they vote with their feet," says Soininen.

Encouraging retirees to join the workforce would be beneficial, says Jouni Vatanen.

"According to the Pension Center, retirees are more reliable, problem-solving, and skilled as workers. These are the three key strengths of retirees," says Vatanen.

The workability of retirees among those under 75 is good. Retirees feel that, both physically and mentally, they could handle working for income. "Of course, in the last 4-5 years, there has been negative development in this regard. Just as many retirees do not feel they can cope with their physical condition. This can be influenced by daily exercise and, on the other hand, the increase in retirement age. Additionally, workplace demands may have tightened," says Vatanen.

According to Soininen, the retirees who come to work for them are in very good condition. "We have, for example, Esko, who is almost 75 years old and operates massive chainsaws to fell large trees. Many younger individuals are not as fit. I see tremendous potential in them," says Soininen.

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