How can we “Stop geezers from governing” if at the same time we want to “Keep older workers working”?

We’re conflicted about older workers in the workforce.

On the one hand, some are worried that we’re ruled by geezers…and they want to put a stop to it.

On the other hand, others are worried about a shortage of workers in the labor force…and they see “older” workers as the solution. What can we do to keep them working, or lure them back if they’ve retired?

On the first topic, we cite Karl Rove, advisor to George W. Bush and now a leading Republican strategist. He wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Okay, Boomers, Let Go Of the Presidency.”

As reported here, Rove noted that the USA has been governed by Boomers for over 30 years now, and “the time has come to pass the mantle of leadership…to a younger generation to be the chief executive of the United States.”

He makes some strong point. President Biden, if he runs again and wins, will be 82 when inaugurated and closer to 90 than to 80 when he finishes his term. Too old?  “He’s already struggling,” says Rove. “Who thinks he’s going to get better?”

And if it’s Donald Trump instead of Biden, he’d be 78 on inauguration day and 82 when he’s done.

Case closed?

In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government is drawing up plans to entice early retirees back into the labor force, as a means of boosting the sluggish economy.

As reported here, plans include a “mid-life MoT” that would combine financial assessment with an audit of job opportunities. (MoT refers to the inspection process, under the Ministry of Transport, that certifies automobiles). 

“The Mid-life MOT is a review for workers in their 40s and 50s that helps them take stock of their finances, skills and health, and enables them to better prepare for their retirement and build financial resilience.

“As part of the expansion, Mid-life MOTs will be delivered online, in the private sector and through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP’s) national network of job centres.

“The job centre expansion will see staff sit down with older jobseekers to examine their retirement planning and help them to not only identify how to overcome barriers to employment, but also explore any avenues to help improve their earning and saving potential.”

Quite a contrast to Karl Rove,

To be fair, being President of the USA is not the same as being a worker in the general economy, and being in your 80s isn’t the same as being in your 50s or young 60s.

But at the same time,  is it reasonable to assume that a younger person could do better simply because they’re younger?  

And if “older” workers are so critically important to the economy — as PM Sunak’s initiatives imply — doesn’t that presuppose a level of skill and competence that is not only present now, but will endure for years to come?

Either way, the juxtaposition of the two stories shows  we’re undergoing a profound re-think of what employment, in relation to aging:

  • – What it looks like now
  • – What it ought to look like
  • – What it will look like in the future

We have a lot on this subject in our book, including interviews with two experts who are helping people “re-invent” their futures in relation to retirement. Have a read and let us know what you think.


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