Never Retire--Meaningful Work for Old Wise Leaders (in their fields)

I love the idea of retraining people for jobs that pay a living wage, that provide satisfaction to those doing them, and where the people who will be trained are not afraid of AI but see it as a great assistant to their work. However, I think that we need to look at a different population of people than the cohort that is the focus of the current project. We need to look at people who are gifted, well respected in their fields. But they need new careers for a variety of reasons, e.g. technology has moved so fast that their skills are not appreciated any longer, or their employer has decided to hire younger people to save money, or they are stuck with a mandatory retirement policy that cannot be modified, etc. These are the people I want to see retrained for meaningful work. Consider the following:

  1. Defined benefit retirement systems in the United States are underfunded,in many cases, especially government systems such as Illinois or New Jersey. Defined contribution systems may be too limited in their principal to provide a decent return to principal. These systems also are prone to shocks such as the Coronavirus pandemic that cause a stock market crash in the United States and probably elsewhere as well.<br>
  2. Although the corona virus pandemic mostly has impacted the lives of elderly people and those with underlying conditions, it probably has not had sufficient impact on the population to depress expected longevity of Americans , currently around 78 or 79 if my recollection is correct. We are living longer, we are facing a problem of not having enough money for the last years of our lives, we are retiring while still relatively vigorous and willing to contribute and told to go sit on the throne (that is the most polite way I can put it but you all know what i mean) and watch television and wait for our monthly check. How stupid is that?! We have a talented, proven group of people who are leaving the workforce when they probably could use part time or even full time jobs that engage their minds etc. I am not crying for myself. I retired at age 58 because they so hated me in my job they bought me out at a fairly nice price. Everyone should be so lucky! But the reality is that most of us just go and play golf (if we have decent pensions) or watch television. What a waste of human talent and skilled labor! we need to find good jobs for these people to do for their mental health, for our country’s well being, and maybe for the wold’s well being. The Peace Corps and the Americorps are not bad models but they pay pathetically little and I think we would do a better job of finding great new work for these retirees. And we would if we knew we are going to be paying them serious money. And I know we have a shortage of professional jobs that could use this group. For instance, we need teachers of STEM in our public high schools, especially in the inner city. We need loads of guidance counselors to help our high school students become college ready starting in their sophomore year. How serious is our shortage of these counselors? Their professional association says we have just half the number se need. But I think the number we need is as much as five times what we have now. And we need them in places where they are not so in some places the real need is not five times but maybe ten times that number. Right now in less affluent school districts the counselors are used as school cops to encourage students to not drop out. The reason is that the school loses revenue if students drop out. But the school does not give them hope that they will make something of themselves if they apply themselves. and that is key to getting kids ready for college. They have to believe that they will benefit from going to college, that they have the knowledge, skills, and resilience or grit to make it through and make themselves into successes. If we want to do a really useful future of work project, taking capable retirees and training them to be guidance counselors in their local school districts is a great way to go!

Thank you starting this discussion!

Although this prize design isn’t focused on older workers per se, they could definitively be in the cohorts competing teams retrain.

I agree with you there’s a larger issue here too, but that’s not the focus of this particular prize competition.

You may be interested in some of the discussions we had under Longevity. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to start designing a prize competition in this field soon.