I should be up front. I’m one of those people (I imagine and hope we are very few) who spent their twenties and early thirties traveling the world, clocking up a solid log of fabulous experiences; sadly failing to accumulate any superannuation worth bragging about. So for me, I kind of know I’m going to be working, or attempting to work for as long as my bones will hold me up.
My father on the other hand has worked hard for more than 55 years now and at 73 is being forced into retirement, as jobs are hard to come by. All around who love and cherish him tell him he’s earned a break, along with the fairly measly pension that goes with it. But, he wants to keep working because he feels he can, even though he can essentially afford to retire.
With this in mind, I can’t help but wonder how raising the retirement age would actually work. What would it look like? In Singapore, where government supported retirement is nonexistent, there are a plethora of jobs seemingly created for the older generation. Not too physically demanding but enough to keep a small income coming in (in a country where the cost of living is on the increase this hardly covers basic needs, but the idea and infrastructure is there). Yet here we are automating as much as possible. When was the last time anyone saw a tea lady come around the office? Or, a janitor permanently on site to take care of things like spills and basic repair?
I heard something on the radio today about women in their 60s becoming an increasing population within the homeless. Mostly women who have lead their lives traditionally, taking care of a family, raising children, playing by the ‘rules’ – only to be left potentially with a broken marriage, no super and in many cases it would seem, no home. How do we expect these women to work until they’re 70 when they can’t find work in their 60s?
When was the last time your workplace employed someone new to the company who was over 60, or even 55?
To me, this is simply a shift away from paying a pension, toward potentially paying the dole. For people who have worked all their lives, played by the rules and contributed to the economy with taxes and required consumer behaviours, is that really a way for them to end their working lives? Would that merely add a bill for the mental anxiety and depression that would be likely to follow?
This is a cultural change and one that would need incentives for businesses to employ more experienced employees at times when they would traditionally be winding down their working patterns.
It may be a way of the future, but how much would need to change to make it viable? And how do we get onto it? I need to be working for a long time!