Jobs for baby boomers
Self-employed need support measures
The number of the self-employed in their 50s or older hit an all-time high of 3.1 million last month. It appears to be good for them to start their own business to earn a living in the rapidly aging society. But the record number proves how desperate they are to keep working.
In fact, baby boomers are rushing to open restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores or Internet cafes because they can hardly find jobs after retirement. Many of them stand little chance of success as the self-employed market has already reached its saturation point, triggering fierce competition.
The size of the coffee shop market has grown twofold over the past five years. But the number of coffee shops has sextupled during the same period. This means that ever-intensifying competition rules the market, driving many new comers out of business.
The potential failure of the self-employed would make them poorer, often leading to the breakup of their families. It is likely to undermine the socioeconomic stability of the nation. Therefore it is urgent to provide support for them to be better prepared for the launch of their own business. It is also necessary to set up a tighter social safety net for them.
What’s more important is to extend the current retirement age for Korean baby boomers, born between 1955 and 1963, to work longer as their life expectancy grows to well over 80. For this, there must be a social consensus between employers, workers and the government.
One viable option is to introduce a “salary peak” system, under which baby boomers can prolong their retirement age in return for wage cuts. The nation also needs to stage a job-sharing campaign to give more opportunities to the elderly and underprivileged.
We urge the government to provide more support including reorientation training for those who have been the backbone of the workforce since the 1980s. Policymakers should keep in mind that the best welfare policy is job creation, especially in an aging society.