Changing life cycles…

I went to a fascinating event run by the Tomorrow Project last week, looking at people’s changing life cycles and how these affect and are affected by business.   A group of employers, employees, academics and futurists spent the day examining three stages of life (early, middle and older), identifying future drivers in each of the life stages, and discussing how business can influence these.  The event was held to inform a new book being published next year; however, it made me think about how the changes in life cycles will drive the future of the sector.  Most people are aware of issues surrounding the ageing population or the importance of a work/life balance, but the day also raised some thought provoking issues surrounding other life stages, including:

  • fertility rates below the replacement rate
  • ageism towards both younger and older people
  • pressures on the ‘sandwich’ generation (people supporting children and parents)
  • a possible end to compulsory retirement
  • training and development for older people still in work

Many of the challenges are not new, what is new is that they have moved between life stages and appear in unexpected ways; being able to offer people over the age of 50 the chance to study for a degree for example, or expanding current flexible working conditions to those aged 75.  People are living more varied lifestyles, and allowing for this will enable the sector to take full advantage of many potential opportunities offered by both their employees and beneficiaries.  What is needed now within the sector is a new, more flexible way of thinking, one that forgets about traditional boundaries implied by life stage, and instead considers enthusiasm, ability and experience, irrespective of age. 

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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