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In a world gone mad, many Baby Boomers are facing their own inner turmoil and rumble of unrest. South Africans live in a country where we battle with unemployment, retrenchment, low wages, crime, fraud, high cost of living, downsizing, mergers, transformation and skills shortages and more. Most, if not all of these issues, affect Baby Boomers.

YEI conducted a snap survey of baby boomers in their early sixties. The purpose of the snap survey was to try and find out which of these issues mostly troubles this age group. There were several. However, one of the key issues at the top of Baby Boomers’ minds is the issue of employment.

Most respondents agreed that they would love to look forward to being put out to pasture and be in a position to retire comfortably in their latter years. However, the reality is that they can’t – not yet – for a variety of reasons, mostly financial. This makes sense given that research shows that only 6% of South Africans can afford to retire.

The comments from some of the disgruntled sixty-somethings may be familiar to some of you:

• When the recruitment agent hears my age (a young and active 62), I never hear another word from them.
• It appears that once one hits the big 6-0, one becomes absolutely invisible and useless.
• I thought ageism in job applications was seen as unfair discrimination – am I correct?
• When I went freelance at 55, a creative placement agency told me to just give up any thoughts of working in advertising since I was ‘too old’.
• I have so much talent and energy going to waste.
• I have put out hundreds of CVs and never hear a word.

So what is the answer?

In a society such as ours, maybe it is time that we became a driving force that will not accept the existing retirement structures. In the dark ages, who was it that determined that 60 was a good stage of life to slow down and retire by the sea? Today, retiring in your 60s is surely an outdated and impractical approach to life. With longer life expectancy and a drive towards healthy living plus the need to fund our lifestyle and our medical aid, the “older” generation can still have a major impact on the economy of the country, and most of us in our sixties believe that we still have a good 15-20 years of productive contribution.

I wonder how many people who are actually retired are in good health and bored out of their minds? Be honest, how many retirees out there really wish they had something more constructive to do? I am sure that there are many who feel they have earned their retirement, and who are in a position to indulge in their chosen activities until check-out time, but I am pretty certain that there are equally as many folk who would prefer to keep on working in some kind of capacity, be it for financial reasons or even just to keep active, in a paid job or in a volunteering capacity.

It may be too late for some, but for those in their early 50’s, it would appear important to develop a mind-set which concentrates on a healthy lifestyle. We should also consider holding ourselves accountable for working and studying towards a third-life career in coaching, mentoring, new business ventures and/or consulting. The answer throughout one’s career and particularly latter career is to be enthusiastic, optimistic, passionate, flexible and relevant. One needs to read and reference the latest business thinking, be conversant in new technologies, develop an active lifetime learning mind-set for self-development, keep your skills current and be open to change.

If the opportunity to stay on in your company in order to impart your experience, knowledge and skills to the younger generation is not an option, consider the following.

World-wide, increasing numbers of baby boomers are becoming entrepreneurs, starting their own businesses and becoming franchise holders. There is a new trend that shows an increase in older people becoming involved in entrepreneurial activities, and in South Africa, a new entrepreneurial spirit has arisen. The Chamber of Commerce have welcomed the news, saying that the trend shows that South Africans are displaying innovative skills. Over-50s/60s can push beyond the economic hardship and brand their own ideas.

Let’s face it – most over-60s have the right work ethic, the staying power, the skills, knowledge and experience to make something work. This kind of entrepreneurship also leads to creating more employment. The trend is that the majority of entrepreneurs will in turn hire at least three younger individuals.

Sounds good to me, what do you think?



  • dogsmom says:

    And if, like me, you have no wish to return to the professional/business world, for goodness’ sake do charity work. I started working pro bono for an animal charity about 18 months ago and while it is frustrating and heartbreaking, I know that I am doing good helping to save animals’ lives and bettering their quality of life. What really annoys me though, is that I have friends, really nice people, in the same privileged position as me, who will not join me even as temporary volunteers, not even to do a tiny fraction of the work that I do! They won’t even do the fund-raising or the PR, which is less emotionally draining, nor are they busy helping other charities.
    I would love to know why. Can anybody explain this to me?

  • Davidbee says:

    I do support my local animal charities dogsmom, in fact they are the only charities I feel are worthy of support.
    However, many retirees such as myself really do watch every penny we have and also conserve every drop of fuel that we can, so the thought of getting a job is (a) virtually out of the question for us over 60’s non graduates and (b) the costs of own-car commuting would make a job pretty much a non starter in any case.

  • M Abdinor says:

    I was retired at age 64. I am now 72. Whereas I do some work for a friend on and off, I still feel to this day I could have carried on working at least half days well into the 70’s and earned more income. Instead of moping about what I could have done what I should have earned, my days are split between physical/mental excercise and relaxation. I am fortunate to live in the Mother City and I have reason to smile more than frown. My one Grand child said when I mentioned a problem. ” Suck it up Grandpa” Maybe that taught me something

  • anotheroldie says:

    When I am 73 and I feel 1/2 as good as I feel, and look, and think, and act, and behave : who will employ me then, when now at 63 and looking 15 yrs younger, THEY ARE JUST NOT INTERESTED. In the industry where I work as a freelancer, you have to be 20yrs old, blonde, have no work ethic, be lazy, act stupid (?), smile and be very nice to the pilots, then most def you will get a position. I love the youth and I have absolutely nothing against them, it is the sick society we live in which determines a person above a certain age is decrepid and senile. Oh, well : all of those will also reach the golden years and then it will be pay back time! In the mean time, find something else to do, create your own business and/or as another has stated : do charity work, help at old age homes, there are so many things you can offer to do. However, please never undervalue yourself because ‘those others’ feel you need ‘them’ to validate yourself. Your are great, you are a BABY BOOMER, for goodness sake, NEVER will there EVER be another super generation like us.

  • Ray Weimann says:

    don’t ever think you have nothing to offer – even if it is only your time/expertise or willingness – do it – there are many opportunities out there to help your fellow citizens – eg lonely folk or children needing help with reading / homework – so go for it

    • Marilynh says:

      Quite right, Ray! YEI is featuring volunteer opportunities in the YEI Directory under “Volunteer Work” so if anyone is wondering how they can get involved in something, this could be the start of your search! Volunteer opportunities will be uploaded in this section, as and when YEI finds them.
      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Elbie says:

    Its really becoming a problem to find something to supplement ones income. I have to put out a plate of food for 7 people everyday…
    Only one in this household has a permanent job. We battle to make ends meet, having a 90 yr old as well as a semi-invalid as well. My husband was retrenched in 2016, he works for himself & one son is helping him. But with the economy being what it is, work are scarce, clients do not pay.
    The Government is the worst when it comes to paying accounts, they expect immediate attention.
    What to do????
    My husband is an Electronic Engineer as well as doing music. He is sending out his CV EVERY DAY, but nothing.
    We have so much to offer in expertise & experience, I cant understand why it is so difficult.

    • Marilynh says:

      Hi Elbie

      Our heartfelt commiseration goes out to you and your husband and your family. It’s an issue we hear about daily which does not make this any easier. We do try and find solutions for seniors but they mostly centre around entrepreneurship, because it is an unfortunate reality that getting a job these days, especially when you are older, is not easy. Employment equity takes precedence and the country’s economy has taken such a dive that more people are getting retrenched than being employed. The unemployment rate is higher than it has ever been. Your husband is already working for himself – and you say he is sending out his CV every day. He will need to send an individualised motivational letter with each CV in order to stand out from the crowd, but this is not a guarantee that he will make it to the interview. We publish articles that provide possible solutions on a regular basis. Please keep looking out for these and perhaps something will resonate with your husband or your son or yourself one of these days.
      Regards, YEI

  • Magda Fry says:

    I am 58 years old and dreading my pension years. I really need to find a way to add to my pension. I really need help.

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