Continuing Education, Skills Enhancement, and Self-Reliance: Essential Ingredients for an Aging Society

In about 9 years, Thai society will reach its peak of the aging society curve.  The labor market, employment, wages, and salary structures will change. Chula researchers recommend self-reliance and continuing education to avoid unemployment and becoming obsolete.

In the age of disruption, not only technology but also the changing population structure have complicated the world a great deal. As predicted by the United Nations, many countries will experience one of the most significant demographic disruptions in history. Thailand itself will become a super-aged society with 1 in 3 people aged over 60 years old within nine years.  This phenomenon will cause significant social and economic changes, especially in the labor market.

“Inevitably, everyone has to adapt.  The average age of workers will be higher. Everyone must keep finding new skills and increasing their productivity as they age.  Students who are entering the labor market must not stop learning after graduating and completing their formal education,” urged senior scholar, Prof. Dr. Kua Wongboonsin, Asst. Prof. Dr. Piyachart Phiromswad, a Finance professor, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pattanaporn Chatjuthamard, Director of the Center of Excellence in Management Research for Corporate Governance and Behavioral Finance, Sasin School of Management.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Piyachart Phiromswad, Prof. Dr. Pattanaporn Chatjuthamard, and Prof. Dr. Kua Wongboonsin, Sasin School of Management
Asst. Prof. Dr. Piyachart Phiromswad, Prof. Dr. Pattanaporn Chatjuthamard,
and Prof. Dr. Kua Wongboonsin

A study by the Center on the effects of an aging society on the rate of employment and wages in the labor market, applying the research methods of Cai and Stoyanov (2016); and an employment survey by career in 2019 by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that “Many professions will be replaced by new technology. The sustainability of all occupations depends largely on the workforce’s adaptability to the changing environment,” the researchers said as they offered guidelines on career adjustment and critical survival skills in an aging society for which everyone must brace themselves right now.

The older one gets, the more vintage one becomes

In some professions, the older the workers get, the more experienced and knowledgeable they become. This group of workers, such as administrators, teachers, marketers, lawyers, and so on, benefit from the enhancement of their cognitive and communication skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) honed throughout their working years.

A marketer, for example, must know how to listen, especially to feedbacks from customers on products and services.  This profession requires the practice of listening skills to understand and determine the needs of customers before solving the problems or planning further steps. Listening with the heart is part of the intellectual communication skills which require discipline, time, and effort to practice until it becomes a habit.

The older one gets, the more withered away one becomes

In some professions, workers lose potential as they get older, being plagued by reduced intellectual and physical skills, such as coordination, memory power, stamina, dexterity, and endurance. These include farmers, construction workers, manufacturing and machinery control laborers, miners, and drivers. These workers with declined productivity as they age must drastically adapt.  The government needs to appreciate their challenges and support them in their quest to adjust. 

How do Gens Y + X live in an aging society?

The skills of today’s workers may no longer be needed in 5 years as they will be replaced by technology.  Working-age people need to raise their skill levels to keep up with the ever-changing nature of jobs and technology by using the “RUN” formula — Reskill, Upskill, New Skill.

4 tips for wealthy & healthy aging

Given Thais’ average life expectancy is around 80 years old, they will live for another 20 years after retirement and will require an income or savings of 20,000-30,000 baht/month.  This means at least 10 million baht in total.  For the majority of people, one million, much less 10-million baht-savings, is out of reach.  So, instead of concentrating on savings alone, workers should learn how to make money work for them too.

4 tips for aging with wealth and well-being

  1. Knowing how to invest – Study and start trading in the stocks market, or buying different types of investment funds to minimize risks.  These investments yield higher returns than normal savings.
  2. Supplemental career after retirement – Although the pay will not rival that of the prime working years, the income can help to contribute toward the monthly expenses.
  3. Be physically fit – Illnesses cost money and can eat into the savings.  Staying healthy while aging is good for the wallet.
  4. Be mentally fit – Good mental health is essential for the elderly. It also reduces the risk of illness and increases happiness. Live the rest of one’s life adding value to self and others by learning new things that bring joy, or volunteering.   Never miss an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with future generations, and avoid a depressing atmosphere.

Right livelihood in retirement age

The best retirement pursuit is one that builds on the skills and knowledge one has, for example, retired business persons may turn into stock market investors; academics or teachers can turn into eLearning content creators.

No matter what profession, the most important thing is that it makes one happy, valued, and not harmful to one’s health.

The sense of kinship and warmth found in the Chula community is priceless and a treasure worth keeping.

Prof. Dr. Pornanong Aramwit Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University

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