Exploring Retirement


Welcome to the February 2014 edition of Exploring Retirement. Each month we provide articles on well-being in retirement and also feature activities to explore. In January we looked at working part-time. As more and more people retire with inadequate pensions this looks set to become the pattern for many. The present UK government has recently changed the rules on retirement to allow people to continue to work while drawing the State Pension.

Even if they retire with an adequate pension many people still want to feel useful and able to make a contribution. The baby boomers as a generation are the best educated, skilled and experienced cohort of retirees that have ever lived. In this issue we will examine some examples of how this generation of retirees can employ their skills and experience in ways that help others.

Feedback from readers is welcomed. Please let us know your thoughts on using your knowledge, skills and experience to make a difference. E-mail your comments to editor@exploringretirement.co.uk

Transferable Skills

Most people develop a range of valuable skills over their lifetime. These can range from the everyday, such as being able to drive, to high level professional skills in areas such as Accountancy or IT. These skills are very much in demand in the voluntary sector but often the retired do not know how to access the opportunities available that might make use of them. It is also not uncommon for retired people to be unaware of just how much they have to offer. For instance, It might never occur to you to consider your ability to speak English as a valuable skill but to an international student recently arrived in this country, the opportunity to practice their English with the help of a fluent native speaker is invaluable. The next section provides a number of examples of the kind of skills that can be developed through experience.These are what have come to be known as "transferable skills" because they can be applied in so many different settings.This list is by no means exhaustive and you may wish to suggest others.

  • Working as part of a team
  • Managing others
  • Negotiation skills
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Motivating others
  • Training others
Information Processing
  • Researching information
  • Handling data
  • Filing systems
  • Planning an activity
  • Problem solving
Communication skills
  • Listening to others
  • Giving a presentation
  • Writing a report
  • Comprehension of written material
IT skills
  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • E-mail
  • Internet searches
Business skills
  • Accounting
  • Business planning
  • Sales/Marketing
  • Networking
  • Event management
  • Office Management
Committee Work
  • Chairing meetings
  • Committee experience
  • Preparing agenda
  • Taking Minutes

Executive Action

Volunteers with experience in management, IT, marketing, accountancy, project management, HR, finance etc. can make a real difference to a charity by helping them fulfil their potential. REACH (Retired Executive Action Clearing House) work with over 10,000 organisations across the UK. They have over 6,000 skilled volunteers working in some capacity on any given day. REACH operates nationally in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and regionally throughout England. You can learn more about their work, the opportunities available and how to get involved on their website at www.reachskills.org.uk.

In Northern Ireland Volunteer Now (www.volunteernow.co.uk) also produce information for people who want to get involved with local charities in a board member capacity and there is a Match Me section on the Volunteer Now website where people can offer their skills.


Mentoring is about development and helping someone to make the most of their talents, at a professional or personal level. As a mentor you use your experience and skills to offer guidance and advice on practical issues, help with setting goals and provide the encouragement needed to achieve results within a specific timescale.

Mentoring can take many forms. Some examples would include -

English Language Tutor

Another way to use your skills might be to volunteer as a language tutor. This can range from helping recent immigrants to master a basic vocabulary to working with international students at a local college or university. Many educational institutions now offer support to students who are having to cope with learning, in what is to them, a foreign language. It isn't until you try explaining English to a foreigner that you realise what a strange language it is, with few rules and many exceptions! We have many idioms that make no sense at all when taken literally. How do you convey the meaning of an expression like "a level playing field" for instance?

In Ireland The Third Age is a national voluntary organisation celebrating the third age in life where people continue to contribute to society. They run a community project where older volunteers welcome new migrants through conversational English classes. Failte Isteach, works at breaking down the barriers that migrants and communities face by extending the hand of friendship and goodwill through the practical, welcoming and inclusive manner in which the programme is delivered by older volunteers. The classes provide assistance with form filling, writing CVs and drafting letters and can help make day to day tasks, such as shopping and banking, less stressful. They also provide an opportunity to meet people, make new friends and integrate with the wider community. To learn more about this initiative, take a look at this short video.