Opportunities for senior citizens not a priority 15

I recently wrote an article on whether government’s plan to produce 30 000 artisans by 2030 is a plausible one.

According to the Ekurhuleni Skills and Training Center SA can reach this target if government provides development opportunities for older semi-skilled workers as well as young people.

This comment got me thinking about the current focus on youth development, youth employment, youth subsidies.

No-one doubts that investing in our young people is critical for the survival and future of our country. In addition having so many young people without jobs and without purpose carries multiple dangers as they often end up in gangs, abuse drugs and participate in illegal activity.

But is it not possible to create opportunities for young people without sidelining those who are over 35? It seems that people who do not fall into the 18 – 35 category are being discarded and ignored.

And what about people who have reached retirement age and still need to work in order to contribute to the household? Don’t these people need employment and training opportunities as much as the youth, and even more so because they don’t have the advantage of being young?

Most people don’t have the luxury of a retirement fund, and for others a government pension does not provide enough financial support. 

I recently heard about a woman who lost her husband at the age of 60 and was forced to re-enter the workforce with no skills and no experience. You can well imagine that this woman had very little technological understanding which makes finding a job even harder.

What is being done to empower our senior citizens? Is it possible to provide equal opportunities?

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15 thoughts on “Opportunities for senior citizens not a priority

  • Unre Visagie

    Thanks Des. 

    Appears we will have to bring the mature skills to bear outside Government implementations?

    Hence the approach to create solutions for skills upgrade that involves the youth as the purpose and the skilled people as contributors who are paid for their contribution?

    I would love to develop the OPPORTUNITY further.

    Could we implement the solution as a business opportunity?



  • Des Squire


  • Unre Visagie

    Thanks Des. I will apply some thought to the issue.

    I have seen several initiatives. It often failed on the requirements of funding “safety” extreme clarity and simplicity. Always a challenge to get moving and gain momentum.

    Share then more later. Anyone else think this is a good idea?

  • Des Squire

    Hi Unre – if we were to start such a group what would we call it and what would the objectives of the group be. Why not take the initiative and start it?  

  • Unre Visagie

    Thanks Glenda. I am 65 and still supporting and initiating new businesses. I cannot see myself stop doing what I enjoy. This is what I do for retirement as long as I live.

    Challenge remains to compensate people with needed experience to engage and transfer, guide, mentor, coach and get people into the mainstream economy. 

    How about a forum/group to focus on this challenge?


  • Glenda Osborn

    Des – I am with you on this one. Once you reach 50, you still have so many skills and business acumen to offer the labour market and the excuses of being over-qualified, etc. is utter nonsense. Why does one apply for a position?  Because one HAS the knowledge, experience and reflective abilities and could be a great asset to any company – to mentor, advise and to transfer skills.  What hogwash!  Some recruitment companies and organisations searching for individuals with “scarce skills” often come up with the excuse that their HR Policies do not allow them to appointment individuals from the age of 50+.  So, if a Pension Fund states that one can retire at 60 (or 55 for women) or 60 (or 65 for men), why is someone that still has so many years to offer in the labour market, discriminated against..?!. In fact, if they were working, dependent on the Pension Fund, they could still be contributing to the funds they will need when they are ACTUALLY supposed to retire. There are constant complaints that there is no skills transfer and post graduates can’t do the job…..us “oldies’ would serve as excellent mentors and coaches in our fields of expertise.  Having life experience, which cannot be learned through university studies, is invaluable.  They just don’t see it!!

  • Cindy Payle Post author

    Thank you all for your insightful comments!! There seems to be a consensus that what we need is a skills transfer scheme, to empower both the young and old, and create an environment of working together rather than competing with one another. 

    It seems that every time the focus shifts to prioritsing the needs of one group in society it creates an imbalance and equality is lost.  And the absence of equality breeds fear, distrust, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance and eventually hatred.  We have to realize that every member of society adds value and no group or individual is more important than the rest, regardless of gender, age, culture, race, or ability.

  • Unre Visagie

    Des, you hit the nail on the head! The Government does not want competency. They put race corrections first and WILL thus fail to the job creation programs.

    They deploy people from Luthuli house rather than appoint competent people and add people to them for FAST TRACK!

    Hence quality, ethics and integrity is gone as even Mantashe admitted several times in public!

    How to recover it if it can be recovered?

    Experienced young at heart people like yourself can do it, should you be allowed?

  • Des Squire

    Some time ago I managed to compile a list of unemployed professional and qualified people of all races. This was submitted to government departments with a suggestion we make use of such individuals as coaches and mentors to assist in training and developing others. My efforts were applauded and all sorts of promises made but guess what? NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE WERE EVER EMPLOYED. 

    I fall into the category of retired but having to work in order to survive. I am continually applying for positions “at a subsistence wage” but I am continually being told I am over experienced, too old, deserve a much higher salary and so on. How short sighted of companies not to make use of the expertise that exists.

    I have applied to many SETAS for example – I think I have the knowledge and expertise for fill many SETA positions – but have never been invited for an interview. If I ask why? I get no response.

    One of the main reasons I honestly feel is that discrimination is rife whether we want to admit it or not. There is a skills gap, there is a need for workplace training, there is a need for mentoring and coaching all of which require experienced people to assist, yet the experienced people are overlooked. Managers fear those with more experience and knowledge than themselves – short-sighted. We should all strive to work with and learn from those with more experience.           


  • Unre Visagie

    Agree with comments above!

    We have assessed many young people with degrees who does not make the grade at grade ten level?

    Most of these people believe they have Matric or a degree and get angry when they get results showing the large gaps.

    The attitude of entitlement does not help a lot towards the solution?

  • Unre Visagie

    Agree fully. The situation is real and dire.

    It is mainly created by a shrinking economy where capital is chased away and a low faith in the future.

    The challenge then is to get more people equipped and productively engaged. 

    Most older people have practical skills and experience. Younger people require the skills. 

    An idea: Pay older people to transfer the skills in learning environments to younger people?

  • Christopher Milton

    I frequently conduct Electrical/Technical assessments as well as training on potential candidates for employment.

    The assessment results are very disturbing and makes one realize how poorly trained some of our ‘Trade Tested’ artisans are.

    The market is flooded with these ‘Unconsciously Incompetent’ artisans with their false sense of achievement.

    Many of these artisans come to us for their Scarce Skill Training. (PLC’s / AC Drives / Pneumatics / Industrial Electrical)

    Some of these artisans are so confused that we virtually have to retrain them from basics.

    Several have very high technical qualifications (N6 / S4) but have no basic understanding of the subject or any idea of what they should know. (Theory and Practical)

    A common excuse used is that they have had no experience.

    My results show that they actually have had no exposure. 

    When I recently worked as Vocational Manger at a FET College, I conducted assessments on 10  x  Grade 12 students and 10 students that had already had Grade 12 and had also completed their studies up to N4 in electrical.

    The assessment conducted was very basic and was in the form of an electrical questionnaire based on N1 Engineering Science.

    The resultant outcomes showed that the grade 12 students obtained a far better mark average than the N4 students.

    Some of the N4 students answers indicate that they had absolutely clueless.

  • bertie wicks

    One of the biggest mistakes the new government made when they came into power was to replace the teachers, artisans, clerks in many government/quasi govt positions with people who had not been adequately trained and experienced. It would have been better to have a ten year window period where these people could have trained these people to a higher level of performance. It would have given predominantly white people the chance to work and interact with other races (something they had been denied for years) and create lifelong bonds across the colour line.

    It would have given the incoming workforce much-needed guidance into problem areas and solving these.This is not impossible now if attitudes to employing older people changed. Our president is close to 70 and he wants to run another term!

    Jobs should be opened up to those 50-75, and they should be used to influence thinking and professionalism in the new boys, training and skills development and motivation for excellence. People who employ South Africans overseas know they can expect a worker. Lets get pride in our workforce again.