Friday, 2 November 2012

The World is Changing, Let's Prepare for the Future

Not strictly a social care blog I will admit, but social care is intrinsically linked hence the reason for putting it here.

The world is changing and, unfortunately, the politicians are failing to acknowledge and address the change that has a huge impact on all levels of society.

We are living longer.

As a result there is a change in the dynamics of society which are only partially addressed by Westminster and, as a result, preparation for the future is woefully short.

Take, for instance, working and the State pension. The age at which the pension can be claimed has risen and will continue to rise over the coming years to mitigate the ever increasing state pension bill. But what notice has been taken of the implications of this? Much is made of the current economic climate, unemployment figures especially among younger people. What we do not here about is the effect of people working longer on the unemployment figures.

It does not take an economist to work out that if people are working longer there are going to be less entry positions available to younger people and where people are working longer the size of the available workforce grows, meaning there is also a need to ensure growth in the number of jobs available otherwise the employment benefit bill will continue to rise.

Ironically, given the current Government approach, one of the areas of employment growth will be needed is in the public sector. As the population ages so will the age related conditions that need to be dealt with by the NHS and its staff, the number of those with dementia will increase dramatically as will other conditions that effect people as they grow older. As the population of the country continues to grow, because of ageing, other public services will need to meet the increasing demand.  It is all very well cutting services to reduce the deficit today but where will that leave us tomorrow?

It is not just politicians that need to adjust to the change in social dynamics. Businesses to need to be aware their customer base is getting older and adjust accordingly. As we age our needs change and it is folly to simply appeal to the younger market (personal bug bear – I do not want skinny jeans but why is it only them available in most shops!), with the high rate of youth unemployment and the fact that people are working longer in life businesses have to consider where the disposable income is!

Institutional ageism has to be halted, older people are now the majority rather than a minority to be sat in the corner and ignored. Some organisations (such as the BBC) have often been accused of ageism (especially with female employees) yet, increasingly their audience have become older people who deserve to be represented.

We are living in an ageing world and as the life expectancy rate continues to grow society will change. Those in charge of policy etc in the country, and, indeed, around the world, need to start changing too, in order to meet the challenges this changing society will bring.

The world is changing, let’s prepare for the future.