Those who retire today are look­ing at anoth­er 20 healthy years with great poten­tial and numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties. How­ev­er, old age is fraught with prej­u­dice. The poten­tial of active aging has not yet arrived in people’s minds and in society.

The impor­tance of the demo­graph­ic change becomes appar­ent when you con­sid­er that the group of 50 to 64 years old employ­ees will increase by 120,000 by 2030. A cohort with exten­sive know-how, which has helped build­ing up our region­al flag­ship com­pa­nies is fac­ing retire­ment. Only about 20 per­cent of those retir­ing are plan­ning this step into retire­ment well ahead. For most of them retire­ment comes sud­den­ly und unexpectedly.

How­ev­er, if you are not pre­pared you can eas­i­ly fall into a hole. In this new phase of life, when you are still phys­i­cal­ly fit but no longer have to work, a wide range of new oppor­tu­ni­ties are wait­ing for peo­ple. How­ev­er, we need more role mod­els and aware­ness for this new chap­ter in one’s life.

To raise aware­ness for these poten­tials on a per­son­al, soci­etal and eco­nom­ic lev­el, ACADEMIA SUPERIOR orga­nized a round­TABLE dis­cus­sion in coop­er­a­tion with the Net­work for Human Ressources called „Old Prej­u­dices – New Oppor­tu­ni­ties”. Three dis­tin­guished guests and speak­ers shared their exper­tise on how to give mean­ing to what you do at every stage of your life: Prof. Dr. Leopold Stieger, head of the plat­form seniors4success, Ing. Dr. Johann Grün­berg­er, for­mer CEO of OÖ Fer­n­gas AG, and Mag. Chris­t­ian May­er, labor mar­ket expert from Busi­ness Upper Austria.

Giving life a meaning at every stage

„The pos­si­bil­i­ties of the new chap­ter of one’s life, in which you no longer have to go to work, but nev­er­the­less can still be active, have yet to be dis­cov­ered by peo­ple and soci­ety,” Prof. Dr. Leopold Stieger is con­vinced. Stieger, who has been in the pen­sion for a long time but is not retired, as he says, empha­sized his goal: „We must get these 20 years as a time of oppor­tu­ni­ty into the minds of peo­ple” and demand­ed: „For­get every­thing you know about  age and cre­ate a new pic­ture.” Only when peo­ple in the pen­sion are look­ing for their tal­ents and poten­tial with a fresh mind can they engage in mean­ing­ful activ­i­ties, accord­ing to Stieger.

Only when I find an answer to the ques­tion ‘Who needs me?’ Will I find a mean­ing­ful task for MYSELF. Real­ly ask­ing this ques­tion is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of each per­son per­son­al­ly. ” – Prof. Dr. Leopold Stieger

Companies could do more

Former CEO of OÖ Fer­n­gas AG, Ing. Johann Grün­berg­er, shared his expe­ri­ences from two years of retire­ment. Accord­ing to him, it is a chal­lenge to find the many ways in which on could do mean­ing­ful work in retire­ment. He recom­mend cours­es at WIFI, social engage­ment, and grand­chil­dren. „It is impor­tant that you pre­pare your­self ear­ly enough for the pen­sion and think about what you could do and how to rebuild your social con­tacts,” said Grün­berg­er. He draws the anal­o­gy of fly­ing where a land­ing approach is not ini­ti­at­ed only at the destination. 

Life can only be extend­ed for­ward, not back­wards.“ – Ing. Dr. Johann Grünberger

Grün­berg­er also sees as respon­si­bil­i­ty with the com­pa­nies that could be doing more for their employ­ees; for exam­ple, how to keep peo­ple employed longer, how old­er unem­ployed peo­ple can be rein­te­grat­ed into the labor mar­ket or how to get the know-how of old­er and retired employ­ees. Grün­berg­er advice to CEOs is this: „Look at your old peo­ple. Use their poten­tial and show that you are doing some­thing in this matter.”

We have to rethink the labor market

Mag. Chris­t­ian May­er, labor mar­ket expert of the Upper Aus­tri­an busi­ness agency Busi­ness Upper Aus­tria, sees the neces­si­ty to rethink exist­ing poli­cies and to test new mod­els in a coura­geous and mul­ti­fac­eted way. The poten­tial of the 50- to 64-year-olds is enor­mous, since it is pre­cise­ly this gen­er­a­tion that has helped to build up the many top com­pa­nies in the region. „Now it is impor­tant that this know-how is not  lost”, May­er empha­sized and adds: „Cur­rent­ly, the focus in the labor mar­ket pol­i­cy is almost exclu­sive­ly on the group of young peo­ple. But demo­graph­i­cal­ly speak­ing, this group is becom­ing small­er and small­er, while the group of employed 50 to 64-year-olds will grow by 120,000 in Upper Aus­tria by 2030. It is cur­rent­ly the most inter­est­ing group for the labor market.”

The group of 50- to 64-year-olds is the most inter­est­ing gropu in terms of labor mar­ket pol­i­cy.“ – Mag. Chris­t­ian Mayer

The expert critizes that on the one hand there are cut­backs if you retire ear­ly but there are no incen­tives what­so­ev­er for peo­ple who want to work longer than required.

Professor Emeritus as Role Model

The active dis­cus­sion with more than 20 peo­ple revolved around the ques­tion of how to raise aware­ness in soci­ety for the top­ic and how to cre­ate role mod­els. For exam­ple, they asked whether the uni­ver­si­ty mod­el of pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus could also work in oth­er pro­fes­sions: an age-relat­ed release from duty while at the same time pre­serv­ing many rights. Retired peo­ple are retained for their insti­tu­tions and soci­ety. Maybe this is an approach that can be applied to oth­er areas.