Welcome to this series on Seniors. I hope you enjoy this thought-provoking and inspiring reading.
If young people were left to their own devices, we view it as a tragedy. We don’t like it if young people with skills are left to languish.
Why extreme prejudice? People with far better skills are not being looked after in society, and the country is being deprived as a result.
In today’s culture, we continuously strive to improve ourselves, gaining BAs, MAs, PHDs, awards, and accolades. What happens to these skills once people stop working? When people hit a certain age do those skills disappear?
New research has shown that one in five older people in New Zealand, the USA, or the U.K, who have a special skill or talent rarely or never get to use it. Men are the worst affected with nearly a third (29 percent) saying they don’t get to use their talents or skills, compared to 14 percent of women.
Older people have a wealth of experience and talent that should be shared and utilized in our communities. We would consider it a tragedy if a younger person had completed a qualification to just sit at home all day, never using their skill. This happens every day to the older generation.
I was talking with my 72-year-old accountant yesterday. We recalled how businesses were clamouring to employ him 50 years ago when he graduated.
Today, his skills as an accountant are many times greater than they were 50 years ago. Yet, if he didn’t own his own business, he would be unemployed.
The world’s population is getting older. There are currently 10.8 million people over 65 in the UK. In my country, New Zealand, 715,000 (15.2% of the population) are over 65. There are more people in the UK and New Zealand aged 60 and above than there are under 18.
It is very important that we don’t let this wealth of experience, skill, and knowledge go to waste.
Our research shows that some of the top skills going to waste include carpentry, engineering, IT, teaching, gardening, and sewing — all skills that could be used to help others.
This is not an issue that will take years to push through the Government or needs to be debated by experts or costs money to implement. It is something that can happen today simply by all of us making a conscious effort to reach out to lonely, older neighbours and family, and taking time to learn about what skills they have.
Being neighbourly is something we are all capable of and we can all do our bit towards stopping people from feeling lonely and isolated from society.
Encouraging people to talk about their interests and experience can also benefit those on the receiving end. We can learn a great deal from older members of our community who may have had very similar or very different life experiences that we can learn from.
We should recognise the contribution older people already make and encourage more older people to show off their talents, put them to good use and not waste what they have spent a lifetime nurturing.
Don’t let the skills of the elderly go to waste.
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Nick Thorne is the founder of Nick’s Digital Solutions Limited. He lives in Levin, New Zealand.