Hacked off about working to 67…

I’m just back from holiday and suffering the post-sunbed blues. It happens every year but this time it is different. This year I am somehow less down and more plain angry…

The cause for all this was a conversation that began two years ago when we spent an idyllic week in Southwold. It’s a place Mrs G and I have always loved and it has some very special memories for us. On a beautiful sunny evening outside the Red Lion Ann said “wouldn’t it be lovely if we retired here?” A quick look in Estate Agents’ windows the next day quickly made us realise that was a pipe dream – unless we win the lottery. A beach hut under Gun Hill (which after all is just a shed with a view) can apparently cost £70-100k! Selling our house in Lincolnshire might just get us a studio flat in Suffolk’s finest resort.

Since then we’ve been trying to find “somewhere like Southwold” but with prices more like Cleethorpes. It has turned into an obsession. And one I am sure doomed to failure. It makes for some fun evenings sharing great (ie expensive) and ghastly (not necessarily cheap but definitely horrible) finds on RightMove.

All this effort seems rather ridiculous given the Government have vowed that I must now work for at least another 15 and a half years to get my pension. I am particularly sensitive to this as my Dad died of cancer when he was just 57. We had several emotional discussions about what he would have liked to have done in retirement during his final weeks. I am determined I will live some of those dreams for him.

However that’s not what is making me angry. What is making me angry is that at the same time I’m being told I’ve got to work longer there are close to a million young people who’d love a job and can’t get one. Somehow the Government don’t seem to have connected the two. If I work two years longer that’s two years’ work someone else can’t have.

According to the latest Labour Force Survey data from National Statistics there are 974,000 16-24 year olds out of work. Which is remarkably similar to the 1,010,000 people over 65 who are working.

While I 100% agree with scrapping the idea of a compulsory retirement age I equally don’t think it is right to have a “forgotten generation” who want to work but can’t get a job.  Meanwhile “baby boomers” who want to retire aren’t allowed to. Balance, as in all things, is the order of the day.

Why this is such an issue for me is that before the rules were changed my youngest son would have been entering the jobs market at almost the same point I’d be retiring. One in, one out. Now I and hundreds of thousands of others like me won’t be retiring then. So that’s hundreds of thousands of jobs that won’t become free. Retirement is one of the critical lubricants of the employment market.

I know all the arguments about the cost of pensions. But what about the social cost of having so many young people out of work? And that’s not just the benefits they are receiving. Two recent pieces of research come to mind. Firstly a report saying that a third of NEETs believe they will never get a job. That’s never, ever. Secondly one predicting “age warfare” as young people increasingly resent their career paths being blocked by older workers who don’t leave.

“When I was a lad” they spoke about the demographic time bomb. Well now there’s another one ticking. I’m with the dissenters on this one. We should seriously investigate dropping the age you can claim a state pension – not increasing it. Although, of course, with strings attached – as always there will need to be a “price of entry”. One that neatly balances the books.

No one should be forced to retire but equally we need to even out the social and business implications of forcing some people to work longer than they want to while others currently unemployed, who want to work, can’t get a job.

All this of course adds up to a huge challenge for Talent professionals. I see a whole new class of Corporate Prisoners emerging – which will be the topic of my next blog…

When the time comes, I’d like to retire from Chiumento knowing that my leaving resulted in us hiring an apprentice or graduate. A more fitting retirement present I can’t imagine for someone who, by then, will have spent 50 years getting people into jobs. I may even offer to remotely mentor them via Skype from the comfort of my beach hut.

Ian Gooden
Chief Executive

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