Offering opportunities to senior citizens

R. Mahendran (66), a former English professor, is quite sceptical of online jobs that promise a new career to retired persons. He had freelanced for a private firm that specialises in designing educational software for professionals and though he was paid what was agreed upon, Mr. Mahendran feels he undersold himself, being unaware of the market trends.

Besides many recruitment agencies and consultancy firms, several websites promise career opportunities for retired persons. While major opportunities exist in administration, purchase and accounts, many NGOs, health-care centres and small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) seeking understanding of legal and financial matters, prefer elderly candidates. Besides roles that require licensing or liaising with government, auditing jobs target retired officials.

However, apprehension remains with both the potential employers and the employees raising demands and suggestions on recruitment and advertising methods.

Most senior citizens do not aggressively market their credentials, and many project themselves as being involved in work just to while away time and employers do not take them seriously, says Aruna Damodaran, manager, Dignity Second Careers. Senior citizens should communicate better and act professionally, she says stressing the need for them to be equipped with basic computer skills. “Being adept at applications like Tally can help a senior citizen earn at least Rs.10,000 more every month.” She cited instances of consultants and lawyers not giving due respect to senior citizens which can dissuade senior citizens from ever working again.

On the other hand, Asha Chandrasekhar (62), a retired teacher, says though most of the advertised website management and content writing jobs require a lot of hard work, the pay is often not commensurate. “Things have become so commercialised that there is a price tag even on experience and expertise,” she says. D. Rajasekaran, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Senior Citizens Association, says that elderly persons should not trust job portals totally and have contracts cleared with the employer beforehand. Long hours of work, work timings, work to be carried home, commuting problems and the stress involved are not mentioned in the sites which they need to look out for, he says. “They should not enter fields they are not skilled in, depending on the training the employer promises because elders normally take time adapt to technology,” he says.

Website reviewer Arun Prabhudesai feels that portals designed for senior citizens should be sensitive to the technological limitations of the elderly


Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012