Retirees explore new passions, stretch fixed incomes with part-time jobs

Winnipeg was hit with near-record amounts of snow in February but 66-year-old Monty Noyes has warm memories of his time delivering takeout orders for SkipTheDishes on the city's blustery byways.

"Dude delivered in a snowstorm! Thanks, Monty!" he proudly recites, recalling an online comment posted by an out-of-town customer who ordered food delivered to his hotel room.

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Noyes is part of a growing trend in Canada of people who retire from their careers but reject decades of idleness and keep working to enrich their lives or stretch their fixed incomes.

"It is completely different. It's stress-free," the longtime bachelor says, contrasting his current flexible hours and pleasurable banter with restaurant staff and customers with his previous working life at a small manufacturing plant in Edmonton.

"Before, there was always somebody standing over you, making sure you do the work, or putting pressure on you to complete the job.

"It's excellent. I've really enjoyed the job."

Jobs involving driving for delivery services or trucking companies or bus services are among the online blue-collar postings that attract more clicks from retirees, according to Brendon Bernard, an economist for job-finding site Indeed.com.

"Positions like those in SkipTheDishes or Uber, they potentially offer a more part-time or flexible spin on those driver roles which older Canadians show disproportionate interest in," he said.

A study by Indeed last year found significant differences but lots of overlap between retirees and younger workers in their interest in jobs in service and retail sectors.

Older part-time workers are more likely to find jobs in management and finance roles, Bernard said, as companies adopt retirement transition plans or hire back retired workers for contract roles or relief work at busy times of the year.

He's seeing a lot of opportunities now in nursing, a growing field with many openings for part-time workers, especially for those with experience in health care roles.

"The share of older Canadians in the workforce is only going to keep growing," said Bernard.

"While we've seen a significant increase in the share of Canadians over 55, for those over 65 ... this is going to be a topic of growing importance in the Canadian labour market going forward."

A consequence of more women staying in the workforce longer is that men are also working longer so they can retire at the same time as their spouses, he said.

Some retirees find jobs that mirror their previous career — such as a retired teacher who takes up tutoring or substitute teaching — and others strike out in new directions, fulfilling a long-frustrated desire to get into food service, working at a garden centre or creating and selling art, for instance.

"People are living longer and they realize they want to continue to contribute," said Suzanne Cook, an adjunct professor in the department of sociology at Toronto's York University, who studies working seniors.

"They don't envision themselves having a vacation for the rest of their lives. It's a very different retirement than their parents' retirement."

Some decide to start a small business or sell real estate. That takes planning ahead, ideally before retirement, to acquire the startup funds, skills and credentials, Cook said.

Finding a passion may require research. Retirees or soon-to-be-retirees should look online, visit the library and talk to counsellors and co-workers for ideas.

"What excites me is when people identify their talents and they really think about their passions and interests... and they realize, now's the time," she said.

Health is a concern for seniors but even chronic issues don't necessarily disqualify them from working, Cook said, although they should look for jobs that match their energy levels and physical limits.

In Winnipeg, Noyes said he advises fellow retirees to be open to new experiences, including delivering food as he does.

"Give it a try," he said.

"It's not for everybody. Some people don't like to drive. For me that doesn't bother me at all."

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