I have had an unusual career, working for many years in early childhood education space in South Africa. At the age of 50 I changed direction and started looking at the current retiring generation in South Africa and what impact longevity and technology was having on this generation. I often say I have worked from cradle to grave in my work journey.
South Africa is challenged on many levels but without a doubt, education and job creation are two main drivers needed for sustainability and a prosperous future nation. Education starts at birth and parents are the primary educators of our children. Harvard centre on the developing child has done much research in this field. The first 1000 days being the most important in the development of the brain and future learning. James Heckman, an economic Nobel Laurette states that investment in the first few years of life bring a 17 times higher return than at any other time in life. Only 50% of children starting grade one ever reaches grade 12 and our unemployed youth is at a rate no country wants to talk about. Helping to find solutions for these challenges are close to my heart.
Currently, we have more than 2 million skilled individuals leaving the workplace as they reach retirement age. Longevity is bringing a much healthier future for this generation and technology is enabling many new solutions we can harness. As a social entrepreneur, I think about and want to find ways for us to use these talent assets to help bring positive change.
Here are some examples that come to mind:
- Find a school close to you and volunteer your time weekly to read to children or help with basic numeracy skills.
- Find an early childhood practitioner near you and walk a journey of support and encouragement.
- Find a group of young people who need skills and encouragement.
- Walk a journey alongside a young entrepreneur in your industry.
- Mentor someone
- Teach something to someone
- Care for others in some way
- Learn something new
As I coach individuals close to retirement, I find that many are keen to help but not sure where and how. I can direct them, but the need is so big, and I do not engage with enough individuals to really make a difference.
Enter the idea of a 50Plus-Skills Community. A place where individuals can connect, engage, learn, serve and earn. The social sector can engage and find skills needed. The platform builds bridges between the retiring talent and the needs of society.
Imagine a South Africa, where every person over 50 was serving in their community in some way. This is not only a massive untapped resource for the country but a wonderful way to build social cohesion and a caring society. We all need a reason to get up. This is one way that this talent can still be active in society.