Retirement age in China is 60 for men and 50 or 55 for women (earlier for blue-collar roles).
But with the country aging rapidly, there are concerns that a shrinking workforce will impose increased burdens on the state.
One potential solution is to encourage “second careers” after official retirement. These jobs might be a bit less demanding but could be designed to fit older peoples’ lifestyles.
Of course, many elderly Chinese already do this: they work as low-paid volunteers in their community or they take on informal jobs as cleaners or caretakers.
The latest development is a government-sponsored recruitment agency specifically offering jobs to people past retirement age. Launched last month, the Senior Talent Information Centre works with companies to create elderly-appropriate roles and then advertise them on its website.
“It’s important to have a positive view of our aging society… and to establish a positive outlook on aging overall,” Su Hui, deputy director of the centre, told the Xinmin Evening News. Since going live in August, it has offered jobs in accountancy, teaching, tourism, and as consultants on elderly care.
However, the job posting that attracted the most attention was one from McDonald’s offering positions in food packaging and customer care. The Beijing-based roles were so oversubscribed that the advertisement had to be taken down.
The pay at McDonald’s wasn’t high – the salary on offer ranged from Rmb1,800 to Rmb3,500 depending on hours worked but staff would also be allowed to draw their pensions at the same time.
“I don’t mind if I earn 300 yuan a day or 3,000 yuan a day, I just want to find something to do. I can’t be idle,” China News Weekly quoted one of the recently retired pensioners as saying.
Earlier this week the government announced that 13 of its 34 provinces, municipalities and regions are now officially labelled as having “moderately aging” status – which means that between 20% and 30% of their populations are over 60 years-old.
Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Shanghai were included in the list with the Chinese capital hitting the 20% threshold for the first time. The northeastern province of Liaoning has the oldest population in China, however, with more than a quarter of its population over 60 years-old, according to the new data.
“China’s population development is facing profound change, where an aging society with fewer children will become the new normal,” the Global Times confirmed.
The government also plans to push back retirement ages, starting “gradually” from 2025. Details of the changes in policy are yet to be announced, but they are bound to cause a stir.
Delaying the retirement age and allowing people to take on second careers in their later years will help to keep talent and experience in the workforce, recruiters say.
One human resources consultant from Zhejiang’s tourist board told the Xinmin Evening News that pensioners were actually perfect candidates for some roles, especially in the hiring of staff to work at tourist sites. “The elderly have a strong cultural foundation and an enthusiasm for these important sites,” she explained.
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