The end of Retirement

Posted by Flux on 

16 July 2013


What’s trending now?

The end of retirement.

Modern medicine means that people are living longer and longer. It’s been said that their first person to live to 150 has already been born.

And that means that a pension plan that counts on people retiring at the age of 65, and (not to put too fine a point on it), going safely to the grave by the age of 80 will fall far, far short…

Add to that the fact that less than 40% of South African’s have enough money saved up to support them adequately for a 15 year retirement, and it’s easy to see the problem.

Why it’s important

If our older generation is both fit enough to be able work (and they are) and needy enough to want to work (and they are) we are left with an aging workforce that has no intention of relinquishing their jobs to the hungry younger generation.

This marks a fundamental breakdown of what should happen in a functioning society: Elders should pass on their knowledge to the younger generation, and then move over, and give the youth a chance to build on what they were taught, and in turn in time pass on their knowledge to their descendants.
When one generation does not move on, or pass on the batten, societal development is in danger of slowing down – or breaking down altogether.

And in a society like South Africa, where we have a huge and huge youth bulge – and a 50% youth unemployment rate – the knock-on effect of our never-retire elders is worth considering.

What’s the butterfly effect?

As more and more people stay in the workplace for longer, already scarce jobs become even scarcer.
And the reality is; our older generation is better educated, better skilled and (let’s face it) more experienced than their younger competitors.

This means employers  are quite happy to keep their existing ageing workforce on, and have little incentive to kick them out and replace them with difficult, anti-establishment Millennial Generation graduates.

And that means our youth unemployment statistics increase in a vicious circle…

Not to mention an ever-widening generation gap, and conflict between our youth and our elderly: Just think about the current conflict over the proposed youth wage subsidy, which COSATU feels is a direct threat to its member’s employment – a bribe to tempt employers to hire under-qualified youth to replace long-serving mature employees.

The never-retire generation is an economic time bomb.

The pioneers and global hotspots

The challenge is for us to find a way to encourage our elders to pass on the batten, without bankrupting themselves .

At the end of the day, whether it’s our unemployed, unemployable youth or our elders who never prepared to retire who are unemployed, it is US,  the productive tax payers,  who are left with the
burden of providing for them.

We need more jobs for more people created in the private sector.
We need pioneers who are able to find ways to convert elders’ knowledge and skills into jobs for the youth.

By: Bronwyn Herolds

About Bronwyn

Bronwyn is an insatiably curious avid reader and an amateur physiologist who takes a keen and amused interest in observing the human condition.
She is constantly astounded at how predictable the world is once one is aware of the underling historical cycles shaping the trends driving our society forward.

Image credit: Gallo Images/ Cultura/Getty Images

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