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South Africa might have to reconsider the retirement age and keep those over it economically active, Doris Viljoen, a senior futurist at the University of Stellenbosch’s Institute for Futures Research (IFR), said this week. 

She said this would help to avoid having the elderly becoming a burden to 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 people aged 60 and older,” said Viljoen.

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

Viljoen said she, however, preferred that the view on the entry and exit into employment 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 the thing that gets you in or out.”

The IFR’s senior futurist shared organisational foresight with Durban-based executives to let them know what they should be looking out for.

“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 that could benefit them,” she said. 

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