The silver dollar economy

At a time when unemployment is at an all-time low and many industries are facing worker shortages, it makes no sense to force people into retirement when they still have a few good years of work left in them. This is happening in a lot of industries though, where there is active recruitment for young people, but no one is interested in employing older people. This from Stuff: Quote:

There are some things bosses, co-workers and HR people shouldn’t ask people.

HR people, for example, shouldn’t ask young women candidates for jobs if they plan to have children.

It’s a dumb question anyway.

But some ignorant questions persist, like “When are you going to retire?” End quote.

Yes, it is a common enough question for people once they reach the age of 60. But, with modern health treatments and general attitudes, there is often no reason why those people could not work another ten years, easily. Quote:

As we have no official, forced retirement age, just an age when you qualify for NZ Super, it’s a question loaded with presumption and innuendo.

If a worker is surplus to requirements, or not meeting muster, then an employer should approach the issue directly. This is an issue of performance, not age.

If it’s a question asked by a colleague, it carries overtones of disapproval, and expectation.

It’s a blend of “get out of the way”, and “why are you still here?”

It carries a tang of ageism, the idea that older people are less productive workers, rubbish with technology, and likely to take loads of sick days.

Ageism seems to me to be the only “ism” that people aren’t cautious of expressing these days. End quote.

I agree with that last statement. Ageism is alive and well in many workplaces. There is no doubt that there are older people who are unwell, or who cannot adapt to the technology of the times, but there are lots of younger people who are not much better, and their attitude of entitlement is much more prevalent than that found in older workers. Quote:

In fact, we’ve made a societal cult of the young, quite in the face of evidence that older people are productive workers.

The presumption that a person will, or should retire at 65, or even 70, also flies in the face of evolving societal norms, and economic necessity.

Roughly a quarter of the over-65s are employed, with a higher proportion of younger silver workers. End quote.

I never fully understand why there is this constant drive to keep the workforce young. A good mix of ages in any workplace provides both enthusiasm and experience. I have worked with a number of young people who may have great qualifications but simply cannot translate them into something useful in the workforce, and I’ve worked with older people who really did need to be put out to grass. Quote:

The population is ageing. We need older workers because we need workers. That need will get more pressing.

We’re also going to need older workers because we will one day raise the age that NZ Super is paid to people.

We will tell workers to work for longer, so it is time to ditch the ageism, and to stop asking older colleagues about when they plan on retiring. End quote.

Tell this to the HR people though. IT people over the age of 50 find it very hard to secure employment these days, even in fields where they have relevant experience. Instead, IT is seen as a field where young is good. I’m not saying young is bad, necessarily, but age is still as much of a barrier to job prospects now as it has ever been.

We are now no longer allowed to be sexist, racist or to discriminate against people on the grounds of religion, even if those issues can cause significant problems in a workplace (such as having to provide a prayer room for Muslims), but it is still okay to be ageist. That makes no sense. Many older people still have a lot to offer society, and it seems wrong that they should be robbed of the opportunity because they are seen as unfit for purpose. After all, Colonel Sanders started the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire after retirement age. If he can do it, my guess is there are a lot of underutilised older people out there. Time to tap the resources that we might already have.

 


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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