Lynda shares her personal journey and elements of her encore work:
As I reached the age of 50 I was at a crossroads. I had just finished working on a four-year project and my children married and moved to live globally. A good friend challenged me to look at what the trend of longevity and technology may mean for South Africa and I found myself on a new steep learning curve. This was 10 years ago and what a journey it has been. Marc Freedman’s book Encore – Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life has been my bible while studying this subject.
South Africa overview: inequality, apartheid and demographics
In starting my research, I decided to go back and study social entrepreneurship at a business school here in South Africa and used this subject for my year of study. I discovered a few things that make the South African scenario unique. We are a world of great imbalance due to apartheid. We have a group where many are experiencing the benefits of longevity and a group where many may never see a healthy old age due to poverty and a lack of health care.
Add to this a country under apartheid for many years and now in a new democracy. This third factor has impacted people both economically and socially and will take many decades to rectify.
We have about 8% of our population over the age of 60, just under 5 million people. The average age of death currently is 62. Almost 75% of this group receive an old age grant of around $120 per month (well below the poverty line). About 25% of this group over 60 will retire outside of the social security system and need to sustain themselves. We have more than 50% of our population under the age of 25 and a large cohort of unemployed youth.
My work: Refirement and Skills Bank
After my year of study, I decided to focus on ways of helping the group 60+ with skills to transition into a Refirement season rather than a retirement season. I define Refirement as a time where one combines work and play and making a difference in society. We have four main areas where skills are needed: education, health, job creation and security. My vision has always been to link the skills with the challenges and build bridges so that we can build strength and capacity into the future of our nation. My website is www.refirementnetwork.com
The vision is to build a Skills Bank linking the 50+ generation with the needs from the social sector. For individuals to coach, mentor, teach, serve, equip and to engage across the sectors in their area of skill, expertise and and passion. In this way we will build the future and ensure that the younger generation thrives. This vision has taken a long time to come to fruition and is about to be launched. Go to www.50plus-skills.co.za
We hope to also engage with business and empower their employees at 3-5 years before their retirement with new thinking so that they prepare for a second career. The convergence of longevity and technology offers us the gift of an extra season and we should use it wisely.
I belong to several international groups and am grateful for the learning and connections I have made over the last ten years, including Pass It On Network, where I co-lead a group on work and economic security. I was on the scientific committee for the 2015 World Heathy Ageing Summit held in South Africa.
Being connected and learning globally is a gift I am most grateful for and want to thank Encore for the role they have played in influencing my thinking.
I can be reached via email on [email protected]