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The labor market for mature people. Joanna Zimna, Witold Orłowski, Marek Góra comment

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In order to stay afloat, you have to honestly say that entrepreneurial people have a chance. It can be hard for others, says Joanna Zimna, a pensioner who runs the “Nasza Arka” foundation, in an interview with TVN24 Biznes. – The main thing that will force the employers to appropriate conditions of employment of mature people will be the lack of people to work at a younger age – admits economist, Professor Witold Orłowski.

63-year-old Joanna Zimna switched to retirement only a year ago, even though Polish law provides that she could do it already at the age of 60. At the same time, she is still professionally active, because in 2000 she founded the “Nasza Arka” foundation in the Wielkopolska village of Turowo, a day care home for seniors, which also provides nursing care for the elderly in their homes. Until recently, she also ran a stonemason’s workshop in parallel.

– “Nasza Arka” operates within the framework of the social economy. The staff consists of ten employees who would not get a job just like that, right away. They are socially excluded. Do you want to know why it’s hard for them to get a job? – he asks in an interview with TVN24 Biznes.

He replies that there is no business in Turów. There is also no bus to the nearest towns, to Pniewy, to Szamotuły, where there are any job offers. – Residents of the village have children, each of them has to be brought to kindergarten or picked up from school at a different time. Therefore, flexible working time is important for such people. Maybe it would also be worth introducing it to people of mature age? – he points out.

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– Life has not been kind to me, and I know what it means to be inferior. I gave my employees the opportunity to work part-time and part-time. We set the scope of activities ourselves. We adapt it to our capabilities. And they are from our village, so they do not lose money on commuting – he reports.

Labor market for the elderly. “No one called”

Assessing the labor market for the elderly, she says that humility and a realistic look at the situation are important. – In order to stay afloat, you have to honestly say that entrepreneurs have chances. It can be hard for others, he says.

The head of the foundation has a backyard garden that she could take care of in retirement, but as she points out, “she is a zodiacal lioness who is always there when something happens, where she is needed.” The idea to build a local enterprise, giving the opportunity to employ people with various experience, was inspired by Barbara Sadowska from the “Barka” Foundation for Mutual Help, but also her personal life motto that “work at any age is a cure for everything”. She herself has had difficult experiences in this matter.

Joanna Zimna experienced her first specter of unemployment at the age of 44, because she was dismissed after 10 years of working in the administration, in a sheltered workshop in the Tarnowo Podgórne commune.

– Then you could get a good job thanks to protection. I’ve been to a lot of nice job interviews, but then it turned out that no one called. There is nothing to hide: I am born in the sixties and I did not quite have the predispositions for such novelties as fluent computer skills or knowledge of the English language. I am from the generation that learned Russian at school – he emphasizes.

According to her, it had no value for entrepreneurs. – Life experience, yes, but without a paper confirming qualifications. I was unemployed for half a year. It was an uninteresting period for me – he assesses and adds that “a man loses ground under his feet, he feels inferior, second-class”. It was my failure in life. I was wondering what will happen now? – divided.

At that time, she found a job thanks to her daughter, who sent her CV for the position of assistant to the board of the company advertised. She added a few words about her mother: that she learns quickly, that she is determined, daring and that she really wants to work.

Joanna ZimnaPrivate materials of Joanna Zimna

“I must have liked it because they invited me for an interview. I was having a great time with this situation. I tried to dress tastefully, I read about this company to know where I ended up. The luck was that I met a lady who was my age and we fell in love. It turned out that she would be my boss, because I was invited to work. It was a beautiful moment, she recalls.

She worked in her new job for seven years. – I learned everything there. I spread my wings, I was given a lot of trust. I could go to Warsaw for training, I attended English lessons – she lists.

However, the composition of the management board changed in the company and it turned out that, as Joanna Zimna explains, “the old team had to leave”.

I was employed on contract economic activitywhich I didn’t suspend when I lost this job. However, I came to an agreement with the new head of the company that when I left, I could use the contacts I made there with China. He agreed to it. I joined my life partner and we ran a stone company – she reports.

At the age of 51, Joanna Zimna started a new professional project. – With poor English, but with the help of a translator, I developed cooperation with the Chinese on the occasion of downloading two containers of granite tombstones – he recalls.

– When I was 62 years old, I still did not use the pension. Social Security he loved me very much because I was paying dues. Years were coming, strength was waning and the time had come for me, it was too hard for us. In stonemasonry, it is primarily physical work. I have retired, but I still work part-time at the “Nasza Arka” foundation. If someone took this job away from me now and told me that I should live off my pension, I would feel as if half of my heart was ripped out – describes Joanna Zimna.

Orłowski: pensions will be low

Experts are alarming that the Polish population is shrinking and the society is aging. At the same time, more and more retirees are making extra money. According to ZUS data, at the end of 2022, the number of working pensioners amounted to 826,000. and was 52 percent higher. than the number of working pensioners at the end of 2011 (541.9 thousand) and by 44 percent. higher than the number of working pensioners at the end of 2015 (575.4 thousand). up to 13.5 percent

In the forecasts, ZUS predicts that in 2023 there will be about 390 people of post-working age per 1,000 people of working age, i.e. retired people in simple terms. In 2061, this number will jump to 806 people, and in 2080 – as many as 839 people.

– We have to get used to the fact that there will be more and more seniors among us – says prof. Witold Orłowski, economist associated with the Vistula Academy of Finance and Business. Former head of the team of economic advisers to the President of the Republic of Poland.

As he says, “today it is over 20 percent, soon (it will be) 30 percent. Probably in the next twenty years there will be half of those who are currently considered seniors in society.”

In the reports on the population, the Central Statistical Office indicates that Poland, for which population forecasts are currently unfavorable, will have to face all the problems resulting from unfavorable demographic trends.

– The point is, for example, that older people will not be able to maintain a decent level, there will not be enough contributions from those who are currently working. We will be in a situation where there will be more people receiving a pension than working. This means that pensions will be low – adds prof. Orlowski.

He explains that in order for retirees to have a decent life, they will have to look for additional income. – They will be forced to work longer, regardless of whether the government lowers the formal retirement age. Even if it is possible to retire early, it will not be possible to live on it, he estimates.

So we ask whether the labor market is prepared for this and how companies approach the elderly. – I am not surprised that someone will open their own business sooner than they will be employed full-time – replies Orłowski.

– The main thing that will force the employers to the right conditions of employment of mature people will be the lack of young people to work. Today, employers live with the conviction that it is currently difficult to find employees, but at the same time they think that this nightmare will pass in a year. That won’t happen. We will have a chronic problem with people to work – he adds.

“Economic activity keeps us alive”

Prof. Marek Góra, an economist specializing in labor economics and pension systems and a lecturer at the Warsaw School of Economics, draws attention to another important area in our conversation. “It’s an important piece of the puzzle to make sure you don’t get old too quickly.” Retirement makes it worse. Pensioners are politically strong because they throw in ballots, but they are already on the margins of working life and this accelerates aging. Economic activity, even if we do not like getting up in the morning or the boss, still keeps us alive – he says.

The strategic recommendation for the government and local governments prepared by the creators of the survey “PolSenior2 – Research on individual areas of the health of the elderly, including health-related quality of life” states that “regardless of the statutory retirement age and particular changes in the pension policy, older employees should be attractive opportunities to continue employment beyond retirement age.

It was written that the subjects of labor market policy and education policy should create attractive opportunities to continue professional work after reaching the retirement age. This requires, among other things, the introduction of financial solutions to motivate employers to hire older workers, as well as greater flexibility, including part-time work and work-sharing rules.

Is the Polish senior doomed to poverty?

There is a question whether a young person should be interested in changes in the labor market and creating solutions supporting the work of older people today? Yes, because later they will use these solutions themselves. One of the creators of the previously cited recommendation, prof. Piotr Błędowski from the Warsaw School of Economics, a specialist in the field of social gerontology, was asked by tvn24.pl in October 2022 whether a Polish senior is doomed to poverty?

– I think that the next generations are more at risk of poverty due to the expected very low pension benefits in the future – he replied.

Read also: A mushroom with an ever-widening cap. Is the Polish senior doomed to poverty?

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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