Posted on 23rd September 2018 at 19:56
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Recently the government announced that those current under the age of 47 would not be able to draw their state pension until they were 68 years old. The age at which you can draw your state pension has for many years also been associated with retirement, i.e. the point at which you can stop working and earning and receive money from the state to support, usually a modest life style. The conflation of state pensionable age and retirement is understandable but also misleading as many people retire before their state pensionable age and live off other assets, saving, downsizing part time employment and so on. There are many reasons for this but the main ones are illness, being made redundant, work no longer provides satisfaction, freedom to pursue other interests and not being able to find suitable employment.
In the main the vast majority of people do not want to stop doing something, wishing to remain active and involved in meaningful activity so long as they are able to. Indeed stopping work is not what most people want, they would like to continue and even find new challenges and things to do allowing them to remain both physically and psychologically active. It is widely recognised that remaining involved in employment or working in the community supports better health outcomes for longer, which helps increase individual contentment and reduce pressure on healthcare services.
This desire to remain actively involved in the community comes against a backdrop in which many advanced industrial nations find their pool of labour declining; the Harvard Business review writes;
“The general population is aging and, with it, the labour pool. People are living longer, healthier lives, and the birth-rate is at a historic low”
In the next 15 years nearly 80% of the native born work-forces of many advanced industrial countries will be in the over 50 cohort. When someone retires their experience leaves with them, and with fewer people coming along with the right levels of technical skills, knowledge and experience many roles will remain unfilled for longer. Areas such as Engineering in which I work are already suffering major pressures in filling roles particularly at the experienced end. This however is replicated across many other sector, healthcare, Finance and IT stand out as sectors under pressure to fill roles.
Against this back drop employers are largely under engaged in trying to manage and remedy their skills gap. Harvard Review Harvard Business Review writes
“Despite irrefutable evidence of workforce aging, many managers may be marching their companies straight off a demographic cliff. According to a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, two-thirds of employers don’t actively recruit older workers. Furthermore, more than half do not actively attempt to retain key ones; 80% do not offer any special provisions (such as flexible work arrangements) to appeal to the concerns of mature workers; and 60% of CEOs say their companies don’t account for workforce aging in their long-term business plans. Instead, relying on the mistaken assumption that the future will be populated by a growing pool of talented and loyal young workers, companies are systemically offering older workers the “package” and skimming people out of the labour force from the top age brackets down”
How do you start to manage these skills shortages and the aspiration of many people who one would normally be expected to retire? We need to start by re-conceptualising a century old idea that working life comes to an end at a certain age. In Pre industrial times work came to an end when you died or become too infirm to carry on and this was usually well before our nominal retirement age of 65. And haven’t we all come across 80 years olds more active and engaged than some 40 year olds. By making the idea of retirement redundant you can begin to introduce the idea that working age is any age up until which you either decide to do something else or you become in some way unable to do the work or activity you are engaged with, and anyway as Lee Iacocco says;
“it takes you until about 50 to know what the hell is going on in the world.”