Business Magazine

Over 50s Should Retire to Give Jobs to Youths, Says Journo

Posted on the 27 April 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Over 50s should retire, says journalist.

Lucy Kellaway: Over 50s should retire. Photocredit: JLA

There aren’t enough jobs in the the world. Young people are facing unemployment in huge numbers: within a decade, there will be 1.2 billion youngsters looking for jobs – but only 300 million jobs to go around. This has been a major issue at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which says that we are “sitting on a social and economic time bomb.” In some areas of the Arab world, 90 per cent of 16-24 year olds are unemployed; in the US it’s 23 per cent; in Spain almost 50 per cent; in the UK 22 percent. Some call it the “lost generation.” The WEF has called for essays answering the question – and Lucy Kellaway has provided a contentious answer.

So what’s the deal? 

It’s a real problem, said Tim Weber on the BBC. If you’re unemployed for a long time, you’ll be “less employable”, and will lack skills; and you’re more likely to have “long-term health problems.” It can also “cause social unrest.” There are many reasons for this – automation, structural problems; the education system, lack of life skills; cultural issues. But perhaps the best solution lies in small steps: the Ten Programme, which encourages members to emply 10 youngsters and train them up.

What was Kellaway’s solution?

A succint one: “Resign,” she wrote on the BBC. She kept meeting youngsters keen for a job in journalism, and had to face the “inescapable, awkward truth”, that “the real reason they can’t do my job is that I’m doing it myself.” The only solution is to make anyone over 50 “walk the plank.” She’s going to hang on to her own job “for dear life,” though. She said that it was better to be unemployed at the end of your life than at the beginning; and that her generation had had it too good for too long. “I’m not saying I like the idea. I’m just saying I believe it.”

But it’s more complicated. 

When you get old, said Theodore Dalrymple on The Telegraph, you like to think you’re “irreplaceable.” One thinks that young people are so “pushy.” But actually, it will be quite nice to retire – no more work, being able to do things you’ve always wanted to do. We’ve become used to the idea that we can’t be dismissed “just because we have reached a certain age.” But the young “need their chance of employment.” What it boils down to is “are the old or aging selfish for continuing to work? Or are they selfish for having retired too soon? Now one, now the other; both and neither. The problem is that the circle cannot be squared, not even with age and experience.”

What are the other reactions? 

Telegraph Columnist Daniel Knowles was not impressed. He tweeted that he was “screaming … at the screen right now for this drivel from Lucy Kellaway.” Businesswoman Fiona Spencer ‏ @fifi1051 added: “Hopefully Lucy Kellaway will take her own advice but no doubt she will still be able to pay her bills.”

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