Monday, September 10, 2007

Ageing -and employment opportunites

I have always wondered why in India-especially in the corporate world and the government -do we have a 'retirement age' of 58 or 60yrs -as the case maybe!

My pet theory-is to attribute it to the 1950s-when perhaps the average life expectancy was perhaps around 60yrs. And so, one had the benefit of pension for some years after retiring -to tide over those last years-without having to work fulltime for a living.

However, in the 5 decades since, thanks to technological advances -better medicines, lesser epidemics, I guess, now the life expectancy has gone up by atleast 15yrs.

My question then..why retire at 60? Why not at 70?

Take a case of our politicians- most of the present generation are upwards of that magic figure! So are some of the leaders of the best known business families. Lawyers, Doctors and all those self employed too-seem to be able to carry on..

I just happened to see a note claiming "104 is the new 80" - just to quote in context :

In the USA, the number of "producers" supporting "retirees" is going to drop by 50% by 2025 and halve by 2050. In Japan, the country will move from 2.3 "producers" supporting 1 "retiree" today, to 1 "producer" supporting 3 "retirees," over the same period. Care to guess what that is going to do to welfare spending?

Small wonder then that discriminating on the basis of age is now illegal in several countries, including the United Kingdom. It borders on criminal to force somebody out of the productive sector of society while that person is productive, knowing that person is being condemned to penury in old age as a result. Besides that, the competition for mid level and senior talent is such that it is debatable whether firms can afford to lose productive, talented senior professionals either.

On those professionals, it also places the burden of ensuring that they stay sharp and current, both in intellectual acuity and in terms of keeping up with technology and other new developments. It is inevitable that firms are going to move more to performance metrics rather than age. After all, if one's performance is up to scratch, who really needs to care about age?

Wouldnt retaining ageing talent be more economic?

So is it time to review other myths?

If the average 'work life' is going to become 50yrs and more, would career planning take a different connotation? Already, within fast growing economies, the concept of life long employment is passe' as most people end up doing changing jobs once in 2/3 yrs -and perhaps change their career atleast a couple of times.

With the age of the 'free agent nation' , would professionals be more loyal to themselves , instead of companies?

Companies are already open to concepts like virtual working, telecommuting, flexi timing, temping...whats next?? I shall be glad to hear from you!
Would those in their 50s and 60s be more acceptable for certain jobs..especially since GenY is very choosy about what they want to do?

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