TIB Services: caretaking services for older workers

workingwise.co.uk speaks to Nick Orde-Powlett about TIB Services, which employs older workers to do caretaking jobs on a temporary or permanent basis.


Many older people are looking not so much for career progression, but for meaningful work. Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey shows a big demand for giving back in some way. 

One organisation that has capitalised on that is TIB Services which matches older workers with transferable professional and life skills to caretaker roles in schools.

The organisation now has over 4,000 older candidates on its books, many with backgrounds in the emergency services, British military, engineering and trades.

“We are looking for workers with practical skills, common sense, maturity and a sense of responsibility,” says managing director Nick Orde-Powlett. “They tend to want something that is rewarding and interesting and that enables them to give back to the community.”

The cost of living crisis is meaning some people who had retired early are now looking to get back to work, or to work more hours in a more reliable role. Many have faced ageism in the recruitment process or have had their transferable skills overlooked. 

TIB helps candidates identify their existing transferable professional skills which make them well suited to working within a school site team, including problem solving, initiative, organisational, team working, following process and communication skills. It also builds their interview skills, which is particularly important given some have not had to do an interview for a long time.

The caretaking model

In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, TIB pivoted to providing agency cover for schools whose site managers and caretakers were either unwell, isolating or shielding. Previously the company had primarily worked with care homes and social housing, and this work had dried up overnight with the need to protect elderly and vulnerable adults.

All workers are vetted through a system that is overseen by five retired police officers who interview all the candidates remotely. Two have worked in local authority recruitment teams.  “They bring a lot of experience to our team as well as police intuition,” says Nick, “and it works well for them as they can pick and choose when they work and can utilise their police skills in a different capacity for the benefit of the community.”

Candidates need to show a commitment to the community, for instance, through working in voluntary organisations or sports clubs, although that doesn’t have to be recent.  Schools give feedback on each candidate too and Nick says he is very proud of how many of the people on TIB Services’ books are rated excellent. “Schools are very grateful. Sometimes they have had no caretaker for a while and it can be a nightmare, with head teachers having to go in to open up,” he says. In some cases schools may not be able to keep open without a caretaker on site.

TIB Services’ caretakers include Alvin, who served with the Greater Manchester Police for over 20 years and developed his DIY skills over the years whilst renovating his own home. His jobs with TIB have involved a stint as relief site support for an independent school in the Cheshire region who said: “Alvin was great! He worked well with our other maintenance staff and got stuck into work. [He is] a super worker.”

Alvin says he finds the most rewarding part of working in schools is “seeing the response from the teachers and pupils when I have completed tasks that help to create a better working and learning environment for them”.  He adds that working flexibly with TIB means he has time for his family and other commitments.

Temporary, permanent and contract work

Assignments can range from one week to three years, with the average temporary assignment being three months, and some candidates may move from temporary to permanent work. Nick says many on TIB Services’ books are happy to work either on a temporary or permanent basis. He adds that the demand from schools for caretakers is high and says in the last year there have been queues at their stall at education events. Nick adds that he often hears from trusts who are facing impending staffing shortages because the caretakers across several of their schools are coming up to retirement age.

TIB Services is therefore in the process of setting up a new contract system for trusts to ensure that they have continuity of service. “A contract system offers greater certainty to trusts and greater certainty to trusts and long-term work to candidates whilst retaining the flexibility which many mature workers value. If one worker wanted a break, or a change of school, we would be able to swap in another worker to take over,” says Nick.

He adds that the company is in a period of high growth and hopes this will continue into 2024. It retains, however, its community spirit. Every new candidate who gets a role at a school is celebrated. “The schools are so appreciative of what we offer,” says Nick. “It’s a very positive job. Very rewarding.”

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