I attended an interesting event last week where the main focus was to identify how to support people over 50 through the path to self-employment. Much of the day was constructive (apart from the imput of an economist from the EU who insisted on referring to the over 50s as ‘older people’ or ‘old people’ throughout-(but that’s another post for another time!) but there was one part which provoked debate and for me concern.
Should the over 50s volunteer and not be encouraged to do paid work
One of the panel discussions was hosted ‘by Esther Rantzen who took the debate off course as she started the session off by saying that the last thing we should was encourage the over 50s to work- as they were needed in the voluntary sector- and how would charities survive without them? Suggesting that those in their 50s had no need to work for financial gain.
I admire those who do work on a voluntary basis – I know many who willingly give up their time – but personally I know very few who can afford to do so on a full time basis – certainly in their 50s.
It did strike me though how the reality of the life of someone in their 50s today, has changed from a generation ago. Looking around at my peers- most are in paid employment or self employment. None of us are in a position to give up work- nor do we want to. Is it realistic to expect any of us today to fund the remainder of our lives (we could live to be 100) through what we have earned in perhaps only 30 years of paid employment – especially when we have at least 15 – years before we can anticipate drawing any form of state pension?
We all like to give back – how much time we can give is all down to personal circumstances – but for most of us it is a financial necessity to continue to work – we are having families later than previous generations and with university fees and the high cost of housing, many of our generation still need to help finance their children – and often elderly parents too. Many of us have seen our pensions and investments plummet through the financial crisis – and so again have had to revisit our plans for the future.
Although I recognise that many charities relay on volunteers, I was worried by Esther’s presumption that the over 50s did not need to work.