RETURNING to the workforce, and wondering if you should retrain for a new job, go for full-time, part-time, work from home or start a business?
The type of employment does not matter as much as the principles, says Mohd Ghazali Abdul Ghaib, president of NGO Gerontological Association of Malaysia (GEM) and the Malaysian Association of Human Resource Consultants.
“Firstly, they should be able to deploy their knowledge, skills and experience in a flexible manner, either as full-time workers, part-time workers, supervisors, trainers or as a member of a technical group or a social group. Whether you are paid a salary or given an allowance, your job should be more flexible,” says Ghazali.
He believes that senior citizens should focus on the top and middle level of employment rather than the lower levels as it might be too strenuous and physically demanding.
He says that older people returning to the workforce should recognise and play to their strengths – be it their knowledge or experience. It could be things that they are good at which others aren’t good at. They could assume the role of trainer, advisor or consultant, even if it is in an informal capacity.
According to him, senior citizens should be given an opportunity to contribute.
Ghazali, who is pushing 70 and hasn’t slowed down yet, believes that if there is a will and passion to work, there will always be reserve energy to tap on.
“I think reemployment is not much about the basic work, but to be gainfully employed, using your mind, knowledge and experience. It’s about giving back to society with some economic gains.
“When returning to the workforce, senior citizens should ask if they can work from home or part-time. That should be their priority. Ask if there is that kind of work, especially if they are good in IT. Definitely they can work from home. This should be their priority,” says Ghazali.
Dr Jariah Masud, research fellow at the Institute of Gerontology at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) says if the seniors have IT skills, they can always work from home and online.
“I think the older people today may be limited in what they can do, but in the future you will find a different kind of senior citizen – they would be more educated and they would be more IT savvy and have more opportunities.
“We are in the transition stage. Looking at myself, I can say I was among the small percentage who made it to university, but now everyone goes to university. Now, there is a different level, qualification and outlook on life. Hopefully with some of our efforts to financially plan for their old age early, maybe we can have more people with enough money by the time they retire. So, we expect more people who don’t need to work,” says Jariah.
Ghazali doesn’t recommend starting a business after retirement. The riskiest thing you can do after retirement is invest all your savings into a business because if it fails, all your savings might be flushed down the drain.
If you really want to go into business then make it something small, perhaps online, and with a very small investment.
Ghazali stresses that the best option is to join a company where you can provide a service, perhaps four hours a day or for three or four days as a supervisor or to give ideas and provide value or be part of the technical committee.
Prof Dr Tengku Aizan Hamid, the director of Institute of Gerontology at UPM says that old age should be meaningful.
“You should have a choice of what you want to do. You should work because you want to and do what you enjoy doing. That should be the way, because at old age why do you want to work for people?
“I would recommend they keep working if they want to. They have to be active and contribute to society. If you don’t use your mind, it will deteriorate fast. That’s the issue,” she says.