Retirement age is being pushed back in countries all over the world, with the latest being the Australian government’s plan to make 70 the life-point when the old-age pension begins.
There’s no doubt people are living longer, with the average span now being in the mid-80s for both men and women, in the west.
And many people would be happy to remain in the labour force, and earning a reasonable income, till their late 60s.
But colliding with this scenario, and not being addressed anywhere by governments, is the problem of what to do with these older workers, in a world where looking for a job over 50 is like the famous needle-in-a-haystack quest.
Evidence is everywhere: in Britain, the 2013 Commission on Older Women report found that a government programme to get people into work had a 28 per cent poorer result for the 55-64 cohort than the under 55s.
[The recession was particularly unkind to older women, with a 41 per cent rise in unemployment among the 50-64 age group between 2010 and 2013. In the population as a whole, the rise was just one per cent.]
POINTLESS is an enjoyable early evening quiz show on BBC One. In it guests aim to decide which answer to a question would have had zero correct answers out there in the real world.
It’s hosted by Alexander Armstrong, with the wonderful, bespectacled Richard Osman as his sidekick. And last week there was a fascinating fact which appealed to me particularly. It was that Calvin Coolidge’s vice president on the 1924 ticket, Charles Dawes, was the same man who wrote the music for the hit song “All in the Game” in the 1950s. (“Many a tear has to fall, But it’s all, In the game…”.)
And to top his achievements, Charlie won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. He was, according to the Nobel website, known as “Hell and Maria” Charlie.
Now there’s a multitasker/polymath par excellence, which leaves one musing via the cliché “They don’t make ‘em like that any more.” At least, not in our dull western democracies, where high office seems reserved for the superhumanly bland, setting aside an Obama or two.
OMG, leave privacy alone! Without it we are nothing. Angela’s view…
I’m a private kind of gal, somewhat shell-shocked by the public nature of the digital world, so the issue of privacy is a big one for me on two levels.
Firstly, there’s the platform privacy question: how much does Facebook/Google/the NSA know about you and your personal preferences, and what are they doing with that knowledge?
Second, the moral, philosophical value of privacy, the integrity of the individual in what used to be called their souls – what happens to that in an all-on, all-out-there, 24-hour society?
[And the usual qualifier that in talking about the digital society, we are talking about one-third of mankind, not the 4 billion or so who don’t have the internet.]
Privacy is no longer a social norm, Mark Zuckerberg told a techie conference several years ago, and he’s been followed by many parrots since.
The world of work can be a pretty rotten place. That’s even setting aside the boring tasks, colleagues with bad breath, and unpleasable bosses. But at least it’s work. Work is turning to a monster for many people because of the conditions imposed on them to hang on to that job, and a wage that continues to shrink – if you get a wage at all. Unpaid internships have ballooned out of control, and here in Ireland unscrupulous employers have been quick to jump on the government’s ‘JobBridge’ bandwagon to grab staff for nothing. (In JobBridge, the person employed is paid only €50 a week on top of their social welfare transfer. See also Scambridge, a website which tries to expose the failings of the scheme.) These morose ruminations came as a result of a seminar on employment and a living wage, organised by Irish Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, and colleagues in the Labour Party.
There’s been a lot of buzz generated by Lean In, the snappy book from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO (and if you don’t know what COO stands for, the book is perhaps not for you).
It means “chief operating officer”, which makes Sandberg a Very Important Person indeed in modern corporate America. And the world, given Facebook’s claimed billion users, with around 650 million of those active daily.
The title refers to a Sandberg exhortation to women in business to “lean in” when they’re at meetings, rather than hanging back, not speaking, lurking in the corners of the room. It’s a manifesto for career women to stop accepting second place, Seize the Day, and the balls of the alpha males. And it’s good.
Setting aside the relentless energy and obsession with work – which Sandberg acknowledges – the book has a lot of universal truths about the respective roles of men and women in society, whether dressed up as equality in western countries, or blatantly unequal in other regions. When it talks about women downgrading their skills (often internally), not going for the big job, dropping out of a promising job because they can’t juggle children and career, it makes a lot of points easily recognizable by any woman who’s worked outside the home in the last 30 years.