Economic Growth in the last century has extended humans' life expectancy. The next question is: What comes after attaining Our long-awaited longevity eventually? The Current Business Affairs Newsletter (October issue) of The Business Students' Union, HKUSTSU will cover the global & local business trends related to Aging Population and "Silver Hair Groups”.
Recalling Our childhood in History classes, we were told the myth in the death of "Qin Shi Huang", founding emperor of Qin Dynasty. Seeking desperately for an elixir of immortality, the great person who first unified China could still not escape his death when he was aged 49. After centuries of human efforts, economic growth, and technological advancement, Global Life Expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males) according to World Health Organisation. In short, We are On average living 20 years more than Qin Shi Huang without any supernatural forces Or elixir.
The question is: What comes after attaining longevity for human beings? Aging Population has become very common trend among developed economies. According to the Census and Statistic Department, HKSAR Government, more than 26% of Hong Kong Population will be aged 65 and Over by the year of 2029, 11% up when compared to the data in 2014. Neighbouring regions such as China, Japan are also encountering similar population trends. In Japan, the current 127 million population is forecast to shrink by one-third after 50 years, while the ratio of elderly (over 64 years old) would rise to 38% by that time.
Dealing with Aging Population
Continuous Aging Population is becoming One of the major challenges to business Organisations in the 21st century. 86% of Japanese employers expressed their struggles to fill job vacancies in a Human Resources Survey conducted in 2O16. The Prime Minister Abe Government announced a series of policies to provide supportive day-care facilities and adopt some more family-friendly policies in Workplace to boost the incentives for mothers or fathers to re-join the labour force, as well as to encourage birth to replenish the aging population of the country.
Other countries in the region also take prompt actions to lessen the effects of aging population and reduction in productivity. In China, eligible couples or families are permitted to give birth to their second children effective from October 2015 - a measure to address the aging issues in China. Singapore, another prosperous economy in the Asia-Pacific Region provided benefits in taxation, as well as public housing application or purchase for families with a certain number of children. Priority Schemes such as “Third-Child Priority Scheme” (TCP) are available to encourage birth. Combining a mix of policies, governments from different countries are trying to tackle the issues arisen from aging population.
"Silver Hair Group” in the Labour Force
Unlike decades ago, researches have shown that purchasing power of the elderly has generally been rising, although a group of the elderly are stranded below the poverty line. The term "Silver Hair Group” are usually used to describe elderly who are physically healthy and economically independent. A considerable proportion of these "Silver Hair" ladies and gentlemen have received tertiary education before, and served as senior civil Servants, professionals in business, medicine and other various fields. Over the past few years, the size of the Group has been growing rapidly, together with the trend of Aging Population observed in many economies.
The image of "Silver Hair Group” as energetic, independent sources in the labour force has been gradually accepted and agreed by the general public. In the recent years, business Organisations in Hong Kong have been supporting the hiring of elderly for different positions including administration & Operations Support, training and development. Social Enterprises to offer career opportunities for Elderly are being set up on individual-basis Or through Non-governmental Organisations. The local Social-Worker-initiated social enterprise restaurant Gingko House, which was founded back in 2003, has been hiring over 2,OOO elderlies to engage in daily operations of restaurant. The Organisation has expanded horizontally and vertically from a steak house in Central Business District to a scaled social enterprise running Organic farms, vegetarian restaurants in different areas of the city. The proliferation of "re-employment” of elderlies have supplied vigour to business environment in Hong Kong.
Similar re-employment phenomena can also be observed in Japan. Retired Workers are enthusiastically seeking for continuous excitements and opportunities to actualise their skills into Works. Agencies are set up to match employers and potential elder employee amid the current shortage of labour in Japan. Retired Workers are referred to different positions ranging from professional corporate managers to amateur gardeners. The elderly workers are usually offered a higher extent of flexibilities in terms of Working hours, although received a lower wage level than their younger colleagues. It is considered as a win-win solution to both the employers and the elderly who hopes to contribute society with their passions and capabilities.
Blossoming Silver Hair Market
Observing the strong pursuit of quality retirement life of the elderly in the 21st century, business potentials of Silver Hair related products and services have been receiving more attention than ever before. Conventional Business Organisations, Public Corporations and newcomer start-ups are inventing and offering new business ideas to cater the elderly's needs. Diamond Cab, a social venture which cater the needs of wheelchair users for point-to-point transportation has tapped into the elderly market and perform certain functions (i.e. Convenience in Reservation and Comfort) that "Rehabus” (15EEE) or non-emergency transportation provided by Hospital Authority cannot play Well due to their objective constraints.
Elderly Care is also a lucrative business that different corporations are providing quality Services. The Hong Kong Housing Society has been providing "Senior Citizen Residences Scheme" which provide quality housing and daily care Services, on leases basis, in designated modern apartment blocks (Cheerful Court and Jolly Place) Scattered acroSS urban areas of Hong Kong.
Our Support Helps ...
Aging Population is likely to be an inevitable demographic trend in the coming decades. Government's insightful and prompt decisions help, while support and encouragement from business community also plays crucial roles to convert these hidden Sources of power synergistically into elements of teamwork and Success. Let's create a community that the "Young” and "Old” live together with joy and prosperity.