From the age of labor to the labor of age
By Sara Ledwith and Sophie Taylor
LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - Terry Robinson is about three-quarters of the way through his second apprenticeship. His first, when he was 15, was as a carpenter and joiner: now he's building the skills to attain supervisor status in retail.
He will be 71 in June.
Based near Oxford, England, he is in a minority of people who are not only still working, but also acquiring new skills as they head toward their 80s, Europe's fastest-growing age group.
Europe's policymakers hope workers his age and younger can serve as models for the citizens of an aging society.
In Paris, 63-year-old Carole Avayou would like to join that group. A technician with Air France-KLM since 1978, she had just turned 60 when she was served notice of compulsory retirement. She has taken her fight for work to court, after a vain protest including locking herself in the office.
"(I wanted them) to discuss things with me, hear my arguments. I put a piece of furniture behind the door and jammed the handle," she said by telephone.
These two stories show the contradictory realities facing older people in Europe as the continent hits a demographic milestone. This year, the number of people aged 60-65 will start to exceed the 15-20 year olds who traditionally replaced them in the labor force, according to a Eurostat data cited by Allianz.
If Europe's economies are to grow, older people will have to work for longer. But in a weak economic climate, not many employers want them. Continued...