THE number of people in Scotland who keep working past the age of 65 has almost doubled in the last decade, with most saying it’s not because they need the money.

New official statistics show the army of so-called ‘silver sloggers’ has grown from 49,000 to 89,000 since 2008, with most almost 1 in 10 Scots of pensionable age still in a job.

Employment rates for the elderly are highest in Orkney, Shetland and the Highland council areas.

The most common reason is simply “not ready to stop working”, which is cited by 55 per cent of older workers, although 12% say they depend on the income for “essential items”.

Boosting pension pots is cited by 7%, paying for luxuries by 5%, and staying on because their skills are needed by their employer by 9%.

The analysis of the country’s changing workforce also found the gender employment gap had shrunk since 2008, as female employment rates recovered more quickly than male rates faster after the Crash.

However women are still more than three times as likely as men to be employed in part-time work.

There was also a dramatic rise in the Scots who have never worked.

Excluding 16 to 24 years olds in full-time education, there were 160,200 people in Scotland last year who have never had a job, up by 52,700 since 2008, an increase of 53%.

The annual survey of employment patterns found 2.6m people aged over 16 were in work in Scotland last year, an employment rate of 74.1%.

Of these, 1.275m were women, with the female employment rate rising from 68.4 to 70.3% over the decade.

There were 1.363m men in work last year, a male employment rate of 78%, compared to 78.9% in 2008.

The changes meant the gender employment gap shank from 10.5 to 7.6 percentage points over the period.

But types of work differed markedly between the sexes, with 42.5% of all female employment part-time, against 13.1% of male employment.

The employment rate gap was 19.7 points for the minority ethnic population, with 75.1% of the 16-64 year old white population employed, against 55.4% of the ethnic population.

The disabled employment gap was 35.5 percentage points, with 45.6% of those classed as disabled under the 2010 Equality Act in work, compared to 81.1% not classed as disabled.

The report identified “substantial movements” over the decade in employment by sector, with 42,100 more women in the admin, education and health and 5,400 fewer men.

There were also more men and women employed in banking, finance and insurance (men up 51,900 and women 25,000); decreases in manufacturing (men down 35,200 and women 17,800) and a large decrease in construction for men (down 37,000).

The Scottish workforce was also shown to becoming more skilled, with a drop in the number of people with no or low qualifications from 16.3% to 11.6% since 2008.

Almost half (48.9%) of workers aged 16-64 had further or higher education qualification last year, up from 38.2% in 2008, and higher than the UK rate of 44.3% in 2018.

Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: “It’s great news that there are more older people in work as they offer tremendous experience and value to employers and the economy. Older women in the workforce account for more than half of this rise in older workers. Our ageing population means that the number of older people who will be working beyond the traditional pension age will likely continue to rise.

"But for the 1 in 10 say they are still working because they need the money, that decision is through necessity rather than choice. 

"We know that around 4 in 10 older people in Scotland feel financially squeezed and may not be able to afford the kind of retirement they expected.

“It is vital that employers create age inclusive workplaces to accommodate an ageing workforce and ensure that they are getting the most out of it.”

Scottish employment minister Jamie Hepburn said: “The rising employment rate amongst over-65s shows that employers are increasingly recognising the skills and experience older workers can offer.

"We are supporting people who are in work, or who want to keep working after they have reached state pension age, by developing a labour market that is open, inclusive and offers good quality and rewarding jobs for everyone.

"We are determined to do all we can within our current powers to enable older people to remain in employment for as long as they wish.”