Date Uploaded: 30/05/2016
Universities and colleges are responding to the rapid growth in the population of older people in Ireland by offering retirees a chance to develop a second career.
Dublin City University will today launch a new programme aimed at engaging the talents and energy of retired or soon-to-retire professionals as they seek new challenges.
The “advanced transitions programme” will offer participants a chance to develop new skills with a blend of academic, personal and professional development .
Prof Brian MacCraith, DCU’s president, said the programme was aimed at offering life-enhancing opportunities to a fast-growing section of the population.
Latest figures show there are about 540,000 people aged 65 or more in Ireland. This is projected to jump to 1.4 million over the next 25 years.
“At a national and international level, we must explore ways to respond to the increasing complexity and richness that ageing brings to our societies and economies,” he said.
“Access to development programmes, such as advanced transitions, will allow society to access the valuable resources and experience of older individuals who still have much to contribute.”
A Merrill Lynch study in the US recently found that nearly three out of every five working retirees said retirement was an opportunity to shift to a different line of work.
David Simpson (60), who recently retired from his role as managing partner of accountancy firm Simpxon Xavier, is the type of person the new programme is aimed at.
“I like to think of myself as a young 60 year old,” he said. “I have a lot to learn and a lot to offer. There is a real positive psychology to this: people are living longer and we still have a huge amount of energy and time to give.”
Ronan King, the programme’s director, said retirement was changing with more people are living far longer, healthier lives.
“The gift of additional decades of life derives from advances in medical science, nutrition, disease eradication and lifestyles,” he said.
“This means that governments, universities and individuals need to recalibrate their thinking and planning if this gift is to be of benefit, rather than a potential burden.”
Other colleges and universities are increasing shifting their focus towards “lifelong learning”, which is identified as key growth area in education over the coming years.
The National Skills Strategy, published earlier this year, seeks to more than double the proportion of people upskilling from 7 per cent to 15 per cent by 2025.
The challenge for older individuals, Mr King said, was to remain relevant and find purpose that leads to continued happiness and fulfilment.
He said tailored approaches to adult learning were required to help ensure individuals can fulfil their personal life goals.
“This, in turn, contributes in a meaningful way to the individual, the family, wider community and the economy,” he said.
The programme is seeking 25 participants as part of its first intake. The full programme will be delivered over a calendar year, starting next January.
It will begin with an initial full-time week of activities in January, followed by one or two days of activities each week for two 12-week terms (February to April, and September to December).
All participants will be members of the student community in DCU, with access to the library and online resources, sports and gym facilities and the opportunity to take part on university and student-led activities.
Journalist: Carl O'Brien