An entry in a blog belonging to the Economic History Association titled ‘Economic History of Retirement in the United States’, presents a stark reminder that retirement has been an artificial concept that was not always an accepted notion. It reveals that the participation of older men in the labour force declined from a high of 76% in 1880 to 17.5% in 2000. This decline has only recently begun to make a comeback.
Social engineers … marketers … governments … gradually, cleverly promoted the notion that men, and ultimately women, of advancing years should retire from the workforce. Popularized as a deserved rite of passage and reward (example: Freedom 55), men and women at the top of their game were, and still are, being convinced to shelve their business knowledge, education, skill sets, wisdom, experience and their incalculable sixth sense acquired over decades, and go fishing instead.
Today’s Boomers, turned Zoomers, are slowly waking up from their long slumber realizing that retirement has always been a calculated manipulation. Trading in their garden trowels for gym memberships … 50+, 60+, 70+ women and men are beginning to reenter the workforce backed up by their ample financial resources that now permit them the luxury of making careful career choices.
While the reality of labour and skill set shortages warrants concern the real danger is employers held hostage by outdated social engineering. A vast source of refined business skills exists within the men and women of the Boomer/Zoomer demographic. The war for employable talent has certainly begun … however, the competitive advantage North America’s employers seek is hidden in plain sight.