The playwright’s seven ages of life begin with birth and end with a period of second childhood when we live in oblivion, our senses largely gone.
But in the late sixteenth century few people lasted beyond 30 years of age and even fewer lasted until the seventh stage of life.
Three hundred years later our life expectancies have dramatically lengthened, our societies have grown older, and we have heightened expectations of the later ages of life.
The World Economic Forum’s summary of the economic implications for ageing societies looks in particular at older workers. It suggests that older workers along with two other groups – women and younger individuals – hold the key to maintaining our standard of living. Population ageing may lead to negative growth in labour supply and productivity without active steps to encourage these three groups to work. So can we expect older workers to delay retirement?
Eight Point Research/Action Plan
I would like to propose an 8 point research/action plan relating to older workers in New Zealand in the belief that for people to want to work longer some things will have to change.
First, too few middle sized or larger employers have undertaken demographic audits and need urgently to do so for labour force planning. All of us have generalised knowledge of the greying of the workforce but few of us can be specific. For example, how old are managers in business organisations, is there a gender/ethnicity age factor which comprises a double or even a triple jeopardy, and what is the impact on succession planning? What would happen if all workers stayed on, or all workers retired at 65 or permutations of both?
Second, employers’ attitudes to hiring and retaining mature workers will need to transform. Reduced hours, phased retirement, four day weekends, six months on and six months off, occupational shifts may have to be thought about.
Three, far better on-the-job training for mature workers, particularly in the areas of computer and IT technology, will have to be offered in the context of the job. A ‘think tank’ approach to this issue involving the Government, employers, trade unionists, individual workers and IT educationalists is required. Senior Net provides a successful model of teaching practice that could perhaps be replicated in industry.
Four, the recruitment industry, which by and large is a youthful industry, will need to abandon covert ageism in shortlisting, interviewing and recommendation to employers and challenges. Recruitment agencies need to curb bias by osmosis from their employer clients, where this is occurring.