The University of Stellenbosch's Institute of Futures Research senior futurist Doris Viljoen. She was the keynote speaker at the Durban Chamber of Commerce CEOs breakfast held this morning. Image: Supplied.
DURBAN -  The University of Stellenbosch’s Institute for Futures Research (IFR) said that South Africa might have to reconsider the retirement age and keep those over it economically active.  

Senior Futurist Doris Viljoen said that this would help to not have them becoming a burden to South African society. 

“Considering the fact that people are now going to live longer and continue being more healthy, we would have to reconsider retirement age or keeping them economically active for longer. Otherwise they will probably just become a burden on society where we will have the responsibility of caring for more and more increasing numbers of people because the graph shows a significant increase in the number of people aged 60 and older,” said Viljoen.   

She said that keeping them economically active for longer would allow them to contribute their wisdom to the economy and to businesses while lessening their chance of being a burden to society. 

Viljoen said that she however preferred that the view on the entry and exit into employment to be more balanced rather than just focused on age. 

“For the same reason that it is said that someone aged 28 cannot know how to run a company is nonsense. People aged 28 very well know how to run a company. I would not want age to be thee thing that gets you in or out. It should be what you can contribute where you are.”  

The IFR’s senior futurist shared organisational foresight with Durban based executives to let them know what they should be looking out for at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO's Breakfast held in Umhlanga, north of Durban this week.  

“They should watch the trends and see how they are developing so that they can make decisions on how they can adapt their businesses and make business decisions. One of the main reasons to look out of the window is so that they can spot opportunities in time to get their processes in place so that they could benefit from them,” she said. 

Viljoen also shared their research for NEDLAC on the futures of work in South Africa which has recently held elections. Job creation featured prominently in the manifestos of almost all the parties that contested the elections. Statistics South Africa’s  2019 first quarter labour force survey showed that the unemployment rate increased by 0,5 of a percentage point to 27,6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. Employment decreased in all four of the sectors in Q1: 2019 with the formal sector recording the largest employment losses of 126 000, followed by the informal sector (68 000), private households (31 000) and agriculture (12 000). 

The IFR said that with a lot of negative news in the media, what gave hope about South Africa was the observation from engagements with executives and business people  that many people wanted to do business. “They want the economy to work. They get up, think of new things to do, design new products and services. For that reason I think South Africa is an amazing place to do business at the moment.” she said. 

Viljoen said that looking into the future, KwaZulu-Natal was in a good position with its access to a huge Port coupled with the airport that gave access to export and import opportunities. “It also has amazing people who have always been enterprising as we have always seen many new ideas coming from KZN. People make plans start small, work hard and are ideally and well positioned to do well in business,” said Viljoen.