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Seniors long to keep working after retirement

By Nguyen Hang   August 25, 2022 | 05:37 pm PT
Seniors long to keep working after retirement
A man works at a university in Ho Chi Minh City after retirement. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong
Retiring after more than 30 years as an elementary school teacher, Phuong has started a new life: She has several part-time jobs.

She says: "I don't want to be a housewife. I am still healthy and want to contribute to society. My age does not allow me to keep working as an elementary teacher, so I found other jobs suitable for older people."

She works as a life insurance agent and a packer, and though the jobs do not pay well, she is satisfied.

"I pack tissues, and I feel happy when I finish a pack. They give me VND5,000 ($0.21) for 100 packs. A bowl of hu tieu (Vietnamese noodles) costs at least VND30,000. It means I need to finish 600 packs to buy a bowl of hu tieu. But I am able to make up to 1,000 packages a day."

She earns VND50,000 a day, not enough to cover her basic needs, but the work gives her pleasure.

"I don't want to be a bird trapped in a cage. I want to ‘fly’, to work in a suitable and enjoyable environment, and to interact with people."

Phuong gave birth to her first child at 40 and so at 60 still worries about her children, who are in university.

"I have a pension and savings, but I will work until I am not capable of doing so."

Many others who have reached retirement age think similarly and are mentally and physically healthy enough to work, and being in the workforce gives them a sense of optimism and activeness.

At 63, Hong keeps working as a technical employee. He says there is no reason for him to stay at home when his company still wants to hire him.

"My boss encourages me to keep working instead of staying home alone and bored. I think I am still capable of doing my job, even doing it better. First, it is because when I was young, I did not have a healthy and balanced lifestyle as I do now. On weekends I would often drink with my friends, but now I don’t. I also have more time to exercise in the evenings.

Second, it is because I no longer have the burden of my family expenses. It makes me feel more relaxed and comfortable doing my job than before. The job now helps me stay healthy and have a stable income."

Thinking about the future, Hong even has a plan to run his own business when the company no longer hires him.

"When I was young, I used to work as a repairman. I am considering joining an electrician training course, and then I will run my own business with the support of some family members."

Many families send their children to their grandparents for care, but Hong thinks it is his children’s responsibility to take care of their kids.

"I don't want to depend on my children or babysit our grandchildren all day. I say to my children to take their kids to kindergartens and visit us at weekends. I want them to understand how hard it is to raise a kid."

He encourage his wife, also retired, to open a coffee shop so she can keep herself busy.

Nam Giau, who gets a pension of VND3.3 million a month, works as a part-time security guard. Worried about his health as he gets older, he wants to earn some more money to set aside so that he will not have to depend on his children.

"This job gives me VND4-5 million a month. I work eight hours a day. It is not hard work. My responsibility is to guard the gate and welcome guests. I don’t want to retire at this age. I want to work until I am not healthy enough to get a job."

There are some 12.58 million people aged over 60 in Vietnam now and this number is growing quickly.

It is expected that by 2030 the number will reach 18 million, accounting for 17.5% of the population.

Le Quang Trung, former head of the department of employment, Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Welfare, says

Vietnam is in a period when labor supply is lower than demand.

In 2014 some 1.2 million people reached working age and joined the labor market. Currently this number is 400,000.

Dr Bui Sy Loi, former deputy head of the National Assembly’s Cultural and Social Affairs Committee, says the need for employment after retirement is a reality that needs to be recognized.

Many seniors are healthy and able to work, and can meet the labor market’s requirements, he says.

Currently some 60% of people are continuing to work after retirement, and need access to job information and capital, he says.

Creating jobs for seniors after retirement brings both economic and social benefits.

Dr Giang Thanh Long, director of the Institute of Public Policy & Management at the National Economics University, says creating jobs for seniors is a social issue in many countries, especially in nations with a rapidly aging population. Vietnam has many similarities with these countries, and can learn from their experience, he says.

"The fact is that seniors are still contributing a lot to society. We need to avoid discrimination against them and should not think they ‘cannot do anything’. That mindset needs to change.

However, he says we should not wait until people reach retirement age to equip them with skills.

"They cannot learn and adapt in a short time."

He says it is necessary to learn from other countries in the region such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, who support people of middle age and not only older people.

They organize free training classes to help people learn about technology, which is necessary to adapt to many job requirements, he says.

"In the short term what we need to do for seniors is implement policies and monitoring programs to best support them at their current jobs."

 
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