Most millennials will never retire - the nature of work will change

07.11.2017

Most millennials will never retire - the nature of work will change

The majority of millennials won’t probably ever retire, and they’ll find the whole concept of everyone stopping working at a certain age to be out-of-date. There are two reasons for this, though, none of the two is the pretense that developed economies couldn’t sustain pension schemes. The first reason is, millennials’ expectations for work is different than the ones of the previous generations is being discussed here. The second reason will be discussed in this article.

The nature of work will change

What we define as work and how we work have already changed, but these will change even more. These changes are the second major factor in making the current pension schemes obsolete. The most comprehensible and inspiring thinkers I’ve so far come across on this field are Esko Kilpi and Katri Saarikivi. Their science based findings draw a clear picture of what the future work will be like.

During the next 20 years half of all jobs and 70% of low-skill jobs are predicted to disappear as the tasks will be performed by robots, AI and similar technologies.1 However, there will always be work for humans, but it requires defining work differently from how it has been defined before. Saarikivi suggests work should be defined as an activity of solving problems people have. Furthermore, she argues that the future work left for humans require skills that cannot learned by machines and software. These skills are learning, creative thinking, flexibility, contextual thought and social interaction skills, especially empathy.²

In other words, the work that in the future is left for humans is built up by the same elements that the jobs in which we see people working today well beyond the official retiring age (such as, leaders, politicians, actors, etc.). To make it clear, I don’t suggest everyone to become a leader, politician or actor. What I do suggest, is that people whose work is built by these elements are very likely satisfied about their jobs and don’t see any rational reason to stop working as long as they are physically and mentally capable to do so. And these capabilities don’t disappear when you turn into a certain age.

In conclusion, it seems obvious that when work becomes less repetitive and physically arduous and people work not only for financial reasons, but because they genuinely enjoy it, retiring as we understand it now becomes an outdated institution.

What are your thoughts? If you have or would have an inspiring and fulfilling job, would you stop it just because of reaching a given age?

Written by: Janne Borro

The article was orginally posted here.

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