Global perspective Human stories

Millions of new jobs needed to finance social security of ageing population – ILO

Millions of new jobs needed to finance social security of ageing population – ILO

In a new report prepared for a major United Nations conference on ageing issues this week, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) says that creating millions of new jobs – especially for women, unemployed youth and people with disabilities – will be the key to financing future social security for older persons.

The number of people aged 60 and over is rapidly increasing throughout the world in a “demographic revolution” that could lead to widespread poverty and social exclusion among the elderly, the ILO warns in a report entitled, “An inclusive society for an ageing population: The employment and social protection challenge.” The study was prepared for the Second World Assembly on Ageing that opened on Monday in Madrid, Spain.

"Poverty and social exclusion are the greatest obstacles to a secure and decent old age," ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said. "The vitality of our societies increasingly depends on ensuring that people of all ages, including older people, have a decent income from work or retirement and are able to continue participating in the life of their communities through employment, volunteer work or other activities."

The ILO report warns that as future social security systems in industrialized countries come under increasing strain, changing the mechanisms for financing retirement will not cover the rising costs of pensions.

Among the solutions, the ILO suggests changing employment policies to be more flexible in order to enable older workers to stay employed longer and to make it attractive for them to do so. Other steps should include the promotion of lifelong learning as well as developing the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) to open up employment and training possibilities for older people.

In the developing countries, the report says the challenge will be more extreme since less than 20 per cent of the labour force there is included in regular social security systems and retirement's a luxury few older people can afford. Even if the formal sector requires them to retire, insufficient transfer incomes force older people to continue working in the informal economy.