There is a fear out there, balanced by a countervailing reality. The fear is that our workforce is aging and knowledge skills are being lost and all efforts should be made to retain mature workers and ease them into retirement only when well into their geriatric years. The reality is that whenever there is a contraction in the economy (which seems to happen like clockwork every decade or so), these older workers with mature incomes are the first to be let go as knee jerk reactions overcome rational thinking.
I’ve recently entered this turfed•out world of mature knowledge workers (MKWs) as a consequence of one of those knee twitches and can understand the fear that is being expressed: our stock markets and other vital levers of economic wealth are in the hands of 30 somethings who have not lived long enough to experience cycles of growth and contraction, and who respond with adrenaline rushes instead of cool thinking; they will also not be around to learn and modify their behaviour from this downturn, having moved onto more lucrative pastures when the pendulum swings down again, and yet the mass of mature workers who could have done something to save us from the current mess are outside the echelons of power, busily sending out resumes or submitting proposals for work in order to get back and make their contribution. It reminds me that in wartime, it is the young soldiers who rush headlong at the front to get their bodies maimed and battered, while their battle•weary and discharged veteran colleagues work behind the scenes to broker peace, which is the real answer to war.
I’ve heard the old saying “Well, you fat cats got us into this mess in the first place” – but that is aimed at a handful of greying CEO’s who made the unwarranted millions, reminiscent of the political leaders who start wars because they do not know how to give and take. The MKWs I refer to are those who kept the lights on whether storms raged or sunny weather prevailed, who were constant, consistent and cared, and who are now on the sidelines at the wrong time. Sidelines are great for playing golf, smelling the roses, writing one’s memoirs and indulging in harmless hobbies. But when the cry “Your country needs you” rings out and there is still warm, active blood pumping through this mature set, it is indeed a waste of a nation’s resources to have this group putting more effort into getting in rather than to playing in.

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