Peter Robinson has spoken of the valuable contribution made by the over-65s in the workplace as new figures show a sharp increase in their numbers in recent years.
The First Minister, who recently reached the former compulsory retirement age of 65, said it was business as usual for himself and shrugged off any notion of slowing down.
Since the current coalition government came to power in Westminster in May 2010 there has been a 36 per cent rise in the number of over-65s in employment, according to Saga.
The over-50s group said the number of older workers has been steadily rising in the years since the abolition of the default retirement age.
Although he admits “the stairs get harder to get up,” Mr Robinson told the News Letter: “I don’t think there’s a lot of difference. There are real advantages for people who have experience which I think is underestimated by the more useful in our society.
“I have friends the same age as me who are very much the same. Look at the top business executives, the ones who have real experience; they have lived it, they’ve gone through it. They know from their past history how to deal with various problems.
“Some societies, like China in particular, there is a higher regard given to those who are older and therefore do have more knowledge and experience.”
Mr Robinson added: “I don’t think you can buy that kind of experience. No matter how good IT and consultants may be, the real life experiences are the kind of things that matter most.”
Saga said there had been a 36 per cent increase since May 2010, to 1.09 million, partly following the abolition of the default retirement age. The number of 50 to 64-year-olds in work has jumped from 7.2 million to nearly eight million in that period, a rise of nine per cent.
Paul Green, Saga’s communications director, said: “Thanks in part to the abolition of the default retirement age, many more older people are able to continue in work for as long as they choose to do so, rather than at the whim of their employer.”
He added: “We need to stop writing older workers off simply because they have found themselves out of work at an older age, and start making the most of the invaluable skills and experience many have to offer.”
Saga said 3.6 per cent of all employed people in the UK are 65 or older, up from 3.4 per cent a year ago.