Most of the recent developmental research and discussions on India's economic potential have centered around the "Demographic Dividend"- the booming youth of India and how India could leverage this working-age surplus (47 million working-age surplus by 2020) to emerge as an economic might. Many entrepreneurs and businesses, especially in the knowledge sector industry, have tactfully cashed in on this boom. However whether this surplus could form a potential  "good human capital", given the lackluster skills and resources required to participate in the economy, is questionable.

It is in the midst of the rather unduly focus of the country on the vibrant workforce, that a segment of 55+ age senior citizens as a potential source of skilled manpower, especially in sectors where experience is much sought after and valued,  is not paid as much attention as it deserves. It is estimated that there are 76.6 million people over the age of 60 in the country and this is projected to be no less than 160 million by 2025. As per the Department of Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens, 10% of Bangalore population, i.e. 0.5 million, are senior citizens. This is a sizable population and a qualified pool of skill and experience that potential employers could tap into.

One however wonders why this pool has been more or less formally untouched. Is it because of the lack of willingness and enthusiasm of senior citizens to engage in meaningful work, instead preferring to comfortably recline? The answer is that very few have a luxury to retire from the workforce. With the absence of a social security system and apparent trends of nuclear families, a fear of instability and vulnerability with the inherent lack of extended support system, lurks amongst the middle class (which will comprise as much as 41% of population by 2025). So if demand for work exists, albeit latent, why is there an apparent no ready availability of such opportunities? Is it because employers have access to better quality, younger and more dynamic workforce at a cheaper price? When one looks at the plethora of job openings demanding professionals with a minimum of 10-15 year experience, the answer is evident.

If there is demand and supply, then why is it that this market still remains unaddressed? There are only a countable instances- DignitySecondCareers.org, SecondInnings.org and Verdurez.com  - catering to this market. But why they have remained barely in existence evades my sense and demands attention. Is there an untapped opportunity beckoning an entrepreneur?
  
(To be continued)

 


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