It may be heresy to say this, but retirement is an out of date concept, born of an earlier age.
For many people the onset of internet based technology and more recently discussions about AI are making them scared and more inclined to want to keep the world of work in a similar pattern to the past. This includes a view that the retirement age shouldn’t go up but in fact should go down, so that people have more time “post work”. But perhaps the reverse is true? Perhaps we need to refashion what work means and the idea that it starts and stops in the way it might once have in the 20th Century? Now is the time to recognise that work is changing and we should proactively use this as an opportunity to re-imagine work.
Work is good for us. It gives us purpose and can be stimulating in a range of different ways. Purpose is so critical to living healthier and happier lives.
Technology overthrows past behaviours, activities and perceptions, but it also enables new ways of interacting with others and with the wider world that our predecessors could never have imagined. It makes it easier for people to monetise some of their skills and capabilities in other ways, including online. We can make technology work for the wider society.
If we re-imagine retirement then what are some guiding principles?
- Work is a positive force for good. People should continue to work for as long as they can, but in very different ways and in order to be healthy and motivated and not just to make money.
- The government should look at how it makes “education for life” a real option for everyone. In other words how government enables people to retrain in different ways to enable them to follow different types of work at different times in their lives
- People are living much longer lives. The state shouldn’t be expected to pay pensions for 30 years for people if they don’t make any other form of contribution back to society.
- However, the state should proactively look at how it facilitates older people finding new types of work and giving back to society for a wage.
- Ageism is rife in society. It needs to be opposed as vigorously as any other form of prejudice.
We should use the COVID crisis to re-imagine our Society for the better and not feel the need to re-entrench past views and a mythical view of better times.
A lot of work will need to be done to create the right environment for this to happen, but we should start sooner rather than later, if we want to ensure that the UK continues to be productive and mould breaking.