Sil­ver-agers ir­re­place­able in econ­omy

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - An­dré Poyser Staff Re­porter

IN A glob­alised econ­omy that is in­creas­ingly be­ing driven by tech­no­log­i­cal changes, it is very tempt­ing to view em­ploy­ees over 50 years of age, who are of­ten­times slow to adapt to th­ese changes, as a hin­drance to the en­trance and ad­vance­ment of young peo­ple in the labour mar­ket.

Or­gan­i­sa­tional de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist and work­force an­a­lyst Dr Leahcim Se­maj has, how­ever, rub­bished that no­tion and has af­firmed the im­por­tance of the ma­ture seg­ment of the labour mar­ket in the mod­ern econ­omy.

De­scrib­ing the over-50 co­hort as “tried and proven”, Se­maj con­ceded that they may have a harder time keep­ing up with tech­nol­ogy but they pos­sess crit­i­cal skills which younger em­ploy­ees lack.

“Young peo­ple may be tech and so­cial-me­dia-savvy, but they don’t have the nec­es­sary skills needed to get the job done. More and more we are re­al­is­ing that young em­ploy­ees don’t have peo­ple skills, they don’t know how to work on their own ini­tia­tive and see a task through to the end be­cause they have such a short at­ten­tion span. But em­ploy­ees over 50 have de­vel­oped a work habit, and what I am sug­gest­ing to or­gan­i­sa­tions is that they bring th­ese peo­ple on with short-term con­tracts be­cause they will get the job done,” he said in an in­ter­view with The Gleaner.

Ac­cord­ing to Se­maj, the over50 co­hort has been un­der­utilised in the econ­omy, and in­creas­ing en­gage­ment of their seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion could re­sult in in­creased eco­nomic gains.

The Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica data shows that up to April of this year, there were 204,100 sil­ver-agers em­ployed in the job mar­ket.

Steven Kerr, man­ager of the Hu­man and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Unit at the Plan­ning In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (PIOJ), ar­gued that even while mil­len­ni­als will be bet­ter able to take ad­van­tage of tech­nol­o­gy­driven jobs, there is still a place for sil­ver-agers in the work­place.

“There is a place for the over 50 in terms of lead­er­ship, man­age­ment, train­ing and su­per­vi­sion,” he said.


Kerr pointed out that new ven­tures in the busi­ness process out­sourc­ing and lo­gis­tics sec­tors have an in­creas­ing need for mid­dle man­agers, a role best filled by ex­pe­ri­enced and older per­sons.

The PIOJ ex­pert fur­ther noted that with in­creas­ing life ex­pectan­cies and a pend­ing in­crease in the re­tire­ment age from 60 to 65, more needs to be done to cre­ate a space for the over-50 co­hort in the econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to Kerr, the ex­pected in­crease in the re­tire­ment age will be pos­i­tive in the sense that pro­duc­tion would in­crease, sav­ings on pen­sion would be re­alised given that the pe­riod to pay would be ex­tended, and the qual­ity of life of the older per­sons would im­prove as they would still be ac­tive.

How­ever, in out­lin­ing the neg­a­tives, he said, “Pro­duc­tiv­ity might de­cline, the health sys­tem might be bur­dened, youth un­em­ploy­ment would in­crease. This would oc­cur since those cur­rently in the labour force would have a longer time to re­main, thus de­lay­ing the time for youth to en­ter the work­force.”

With a youth un­em­ploy­ment rate that is twice the na­tional av­er­age, man­age­ment con­sul­tant, Dr Hen­ley Mor­gan, ad­dressed the con­cerns re­lated to young peo­ple fac­ing in­creas­ing dif­fi­culty in ac­cess­ing the labour mar­ket be­cause of the con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment of older peo­ple. He ar­gued that space is avail­able for young peo­ple in the tech­nol­ogy-driven sec­tors that are be­ing in­tro­duced.

“There is still a value to per­sons who are over 50. They are still ir­re­place­able in terms of what they bring to the work­place, the com­mu­nity and the econ­omy,” he said.


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