Singapore 23rd September 2010
Don’t worry I am not retiring yet, but the subject has been making some headlines around the world recently where countries are considering raising the legal retirement age to fight the economy crisis. With an aging population (people are getting older and older, with better and better medical care) the burden for the governments in taking care of the “pensioners” is becoming heavier and heavier, so delaying the retirement age is financially beneficial to governments.
This obviously brings into question the issue of retirement in our lighting design industry. Retirement very much depends on the country you live in I believe. I say that because I am a basket case with a Dutch nationality, an Australian residency and work permits in Singapore and China and therefore I am not sure how it works for “normal” people. The retirement age in both Holland and Australia is 60 as in most countries around the world but several countries, Australia included, are considering raising it with a few years. I have still a few years to go, but as an independent entrepreneur I am not really bound by these retirement ages. Choosing not to retire will mean forfeiting any or part of the retirement fund payments for as long as I work
But big multinational companies such as Philips, GE, etc, are all regulated and working past the retirement age is generally not possible or difficult, so any of my lighting colleagues in that situation are likely to leave the lighting arena when they reach the retirement age. I know some of them come back as a freelance consultant so that companies can still tap into their vast experience. Let’s face it when you retire you are virtually at the top of your experience level…we learn and experience new things every day, don’t we? However the thing with age is that we tend to “rust” into habits…it worked for years for you so why change? The older you get, the lesser open you are for change.
As for myself, as long as I enjoy my work and my health allows me to do so, I think I intent to keep working. Keeping your mind and body challenged and busy keeps you alive and alert. The difference will be really that I (hopefully) will be working because I want to, not because I have to….