Work until you die…if they’ll let you

It has?been described as a?tidal wave of demographic?change and a looming war over a shrinking pool of talent. But no matter how you put it, the statistical fact remains the same:?New Zealand’s workforce is aging.

After years of reports and discussions about the changing age profile of the country’s workers, the implications?are now beginning to hit home.

The change in the number of people still working past conventional retirement age has reached record levels. A year ago, at 22.2 percent, New Zealand hit the highest ever rate of employment among those aged 65 years and over, and there’s no sign of a let up. Only 30 years ago, the?rate was about 9 percent.

And like Auckland’s infrastructure, no political party will deal with this issue because, when it is finally critical, they’ll be resting on their directorship, OBEs or cemetery plots.? The solution is that people keep working longer, but who wants to be served by a 65-year-old at McDonalds?

According to the most recent PwC Golden Age Index, New Zealand has the second highest rate of engagement of those aged over 55 in the OECD, topped only by Iceland. Many in their 60s, who in the past would have received a golden handshake and retired to a life focused?on family and hobbies, now want to remain engaged, connected and active. They consider themselves willing and able to do well in the workplace.

But organisations need to recognise they benefit from experienced staff and they can’t afford to have huge chunks of their workforces walk out the door when they hit 65.

Massey University’s, Professor Tim Bentley, who was one of the co-authors of AUT’s Aging Work Force study, warns businesses who think?people in their 60s are no longer of any use that they are out of date. He says the change in the age profile of workers means there could be a looming shortage of skills?and a fierce battle for talent approaching.

What has your experience been, as workers over fifty? Once you drop out of the work force, is there a dignified way back in?