The big intergenerational skills swop

Twerking, snowboarding and where to get good tattoos! Oddfellows research into the relationship between under 25s and over 55s shows that though they might be generations apart, Britain’s young and old love spending time together and like nothing better than to share advice and swap skills.

A desire to learn about smartphones, online shopping, tablets and social media is prompting many over 55s to seek out the younger generation for guidance.

In turn, the under 25s report they are picking up better manners, social skills, relationship advice and want to spend more time with older relatives and friends.

The insight report, entitled “Generation Games”, which was commissioned in 2015 by the Oddfellows, highlighted how much the two groups can offer each other.

Over 55s said they’d like lessons in breakdancing, snowboarding and learning to laugh again. They’d happily teach fly-fishing, hula-hooping and self-confidence.

Skills the under 25s said they’d like to teach their elders include mastering Instagram, rollerblading and twerking. In the meantime, they’d like to learn to appreciate 70s music, how to be frugal and “where to get good tattoos”.

Jane Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of the Oddfellows, said: “Younger and older people want to spend time together, swapping talents and advice, and benefit hugely from each other’s company.

“These groups are miles apart in terms of their life experience and expertise but our research found that it is these very differences that make their companionship so rewarding and fun.”

The research asked what advice over 55s would give to their younger selves. Responses included: “live life your way”, “worry less”, “have more sex”, “be more glamorous” and “buy better underwear”!

Tips under 25s would give to their older selves include: “Enjoy life to the full”, “listen”, “have more fun”, “stay young at heart” and “don’t sing in public”!

Around 95% of under 25s and over 55s said they enjoy spending time together; 37% of under 25s want more opportunities to spend time with their elders, and 29% of over 55s said they’d like more time with the young.

The research also highlights that, despite the pleasure to be had from each other’s company, many young and old struggle to find the chance to meet. One in four of the over 55s rarely or never spends time with the other age group, while one in five 13-25 year olds has few opportunities to spend time with over 55s.

“What is saddening is that it is the over 75s who value the company of the under 25s most highly yet have the fewest opportunities to spend time with them,” said Jane.

“Unfortunately, it appears through our research that, as we get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to mix with younger people.

“Given the enjoyment and benefits over 55s derive from the company of young people, and vice versa, this is an issue more people need to be made aware of. We also need to focus attention on how to build more opportunities for old and young to come together.

“Our regular branch events are a way in which we can help bring people together locally through tea parties, craft sessions, walks and trips out - activities that are open to everyone, regardless of age.”

The survey questioned 528 over 55s and 501 13-25 year olds.

Key findings of the 2015 Oddfellows Generation Games Insight Report which questioned 528 over 55s and 501 13-25s:

• 96% of over 55s enjoy spending time with the under 25s
• 97% of 13-to-25 year olds enjoy spending time with the over 55s
• 76% of over 55s have learnt skills from young people
• 87% of under 25s have learnt skills from an older person
• One in four over 55s rarely or never spend time with young people
• One in five under 25s have few opportunities to spend time with older people
• 29% of over 55s would like more opportunities to spend time with younger people
• 37% of 13-to-25 year olds would like to spend more time with older people

View the Oddfellows' Generation Games Insight Report report in full.