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Talk of the Day -- Early retirement and an untenable future

2012/02/19 20:03:20

Government statistics show that as of the end of 2010, Taiwan's workforce retired at an average age of 56.6 years old, a half-year later than in 2000. Over the same 10-year time span, the average life span of the population increased by 2.7 years, to 80 years of age.

If the imbalance between working and retirement ages and lengthening life spans keeps growing, Taiwan will not be able to avoid a storm created by its aging society, which is already aggravated by a declining birth rate.

As a local newspaper described, a private sector that encourages or enforces early retirement in order to cut operating costs is handing Taiwan a time bomb that says "we will not be able to support our own future."

The following are excerpts of China Times' reports on the issue:

Statistics in other countries show that a majority of Asian countries, such as Korea and Japan, have a workforce whose average retirement age is between 68 and 70.

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated a few years ago that the "actual" retirement age in Taiwan was 61.8 years old.

According to the CLA, members of Taiwan's workforce leave the job market earlier than their counterparts in neighboring countries and in Europe and North America, so, there should be room for Taiwanese workers to delay retirement.

According to 104 Job Bank, the number of workers in the 55-64 age bracket who have gone online seeking new jobs so far this years has grown 30 percent from last year.

Ho Chi-sheng, a public relations manager with 1111 Job Bank, said there is no denying that businesses have been pushing their employees to retire early.

"If you want to quit your current job without going into retirement, you should plan ahead on how to launch a second career by building connections with the resources currently available to you, sharpening your professional skills or training yourself to acquire a second expertise," Ho said.

Chen Li-chueh, a marketing manager at 104 Job Bank, agreed. "Experience and stability are the greatest assets for middle- and advanced-aged workers trying to get another job after retiring from their career positions."

1111 Job Bank said there were many job opportunities for advanced-aged workers in the restaurant, home care and retail sectors, but many such jobs are paid hourly.

104 Job Bank said that only a minority of people, such as former elected officials and former senior executives in the private sector, will be able to find jobs as advisers to businesses using their experience, knowledge and connections.

Surveys show that the private sector usually recruits new employees no older than 44, just one year below 45 -- the beginning year for the definition of middle- and advanced-aged workers.

These middle-aged and older workers are usually employed by the real estate, old economy, manufacturing and services sectors, according to government and private-sector data. (Feb. 19, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)