During a conference organised earlier this week by the Seychelles Pension Fund (SPF), youth aspirations on the ideal age of retirement was presented by Anaël Bodwell.
There was a wide range of views from the Seychelles youth where some saw the need to increase the age of retirement as the new demographic trend in Seychelles is seeing a decrease in the working population and an increase in the ageing population.
Others want the retirement age lowered to have the chance to enjoy the money before they get too old. They argue that by the retirement age medical issues may come into play which makes the person incapable of pursuing other activities and hobbies as they would have if they were younger or healthier.
Ms Bodwell gathered her information through one-to-one, telephone and email interviews, with young professionals and also used social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.
It is to be noted that the views are not representative of the whole youth population of Seychelles but they nevertheless do give an aperçu of young people’s views on this issue.
Miss Bodwell took it upon herself to visit youth-focused institutions such as Citizens Engagement Platform (Ceps), Seychelles National Youth Council (SNYC) and the University of Seychelles (UniSey).
Craig, who is 28 years old, said he thinks the retirement age should be increased to 66 years old as generally people are capable of working longer in these modern times.
“A low pension age potentially encourages more people to leave the workforce. We lose older people’s expertise and experience as a result. I am also concerned that a lower pension age may cost the country more in terms of social security money it would be paying out to recipients. In relation to voluntary contribution, I have not yet explored the options available to me as an entrepreneur,” he said.
Ceps vice-chairman Jude Fred said: “Retirement age should be 65 years old because we are having an ageing population.”
Nineteen-year-old student Axelle said the age of pension should be 65 years old.
“I believe that though there’s an increase in the youth population, there isn’t much of an increase in the actual ‘working population’ thus the need to increase the pension age.
We need to increase this time period where we save money during our fit working years, this is what is best for the economy. I say there’s no visible increase among the working population because of fewer work opportunities, diplomas are becoming a common education level, the government is offering too many incentives, increased prevalence in teenage pregnancy and other factors,” she said.
Axelle would personally like to retire at the age of 70 because she wants to save up enough money to be well off and be able to travel.
“Besides, it is very common for people in the business world to retire later in life – this is mainly because the salary increases with age and experience,” she added.
Yannick Meme, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, said: “Yes, we are having an ageing population, so 65 years old would be appropriate.”
SNYC chairman and part-time law student Ziggy Adam said: “I think the retirement age should be 55 years old given that the money is already being invested as capital and generating great profit (I presume). I don’t contribute voluntary pension because I cannot readily assess the long-term benefit and weigh it against short-term stability.”
Twenty-one-year old Shafira Charlette from SACOS said: “55 years old maybe? I’m not sure. People are just not living for a long time anymore.”
Well known singer and young entrepreneur Chicco Martino, said: “At 50 years old, I will be too tired to work and at 60, I will definitely be too old to enjoy my pension.”
Twenty-five-year-old fisherman Ravy Gonzalves said: “I’ve never heard about voluntary pension, or else I would also contribute.”
Christian Lesperance, 25 years old, said: “People should be able to retire at 60 years old when they’re still able to pursue other activities such as travelling. I contribute voluntarily because I see it as an investment for when I reach my 60s.”
Student and part-time radio presenter Henrico Ernesta, said: “I pay my pension but not voluntarily. I heard that it’s wise to contribute voluntarily as it will benefit you later in life. I feel that the way it is paid (automatic deduction) is a good approach; I would probably be inconsistent with paying when life gets too busy.”
Youth Action Movement (Yam) chairman and Queen’s Young Leader 2016 Damien Mougal said: “I honestly don’t know how pension works. This is the general feel of young people my age – we haven’t been taught about this at school. I feel there is a general lack of knowledge for young people until we actually are employed.”
An anonymous 27-year-old student said: “I think things are changing and I’m convinced there is an argument to be made about why the education system is failing us. It is not catering for this generation or the way in which people want to contribute to society. From wanting to have a job on the factory line to contributing to a greater cause than production. We are in a post-tertiary era. Has the new generation realised that school produces obedient, punctual cogs in a machine and have decided it’s not for them? Is that why they question everything? Pension is crucial, they should never get rid of it but in the way in which it links with work I think the model will live for a decade at most.”
How relevant will an institution like the SPF be in 30 years’ time for a 30-year-old today? Here is what the youth want to see in the SPF:
– The pension age should be lower (alternatively, young people want to be compensated accordingly for the current pension age i.e. higher returns);
– Better and more flexible employment schemes to encourage people to pay voluntary pension;
– Education at school level (presence of SPF at job fairs, career talks);
– Retirement preparation upon nearing the age of retirement (HR in organisations to have talks).
“The SPF should be an institution that gives out loans to its clients. Contributors of a certain age who have contributed, say for 10 years, should be able to qualify for such loans,” young parliamentarian Neddy Zoe-Jean said.