retire continue working

Working Seniors



ripe pension scrapheap
retail retire know-how
trust allow to found
fit (2) rigidly stipulate
initial foundry resonance
clown respect pass on
bored fairness outmoded
absurd solidarity sympathy
lack force (2) dismiss





Jochen Michalczyk, 72 Years Old, IT Expert for Otto Group: “Our president is three years older than I am, I believe. And my boss, Mr. Otto, is three weeks older.

If they can do it, why shouldn’t I be able to as well?

But the most important thing is being needed. I don’t feel that I’m ripe for the scrapheap yet; I can still do something and still be useful.”

The pensioner is a full member of the staff again.

At the meeting, the department head discusses what needs to be done this week.

IT specialist Jochen Michalczyk missed the exchange with his colleagues. He had worked for the auto retailer company in Hamburg for 45 years, and had built up its controlling system.

Then he retired.

Two years ago, his know-how was suddenly needed again.

Jochen Michalczyk: “I didn’t want to seem like a know-it-all. So I introduced myself to the young people with my first name. I said, ‘I’m Jochen.’ And that was what made them trust me and say ‘This guy is okay’.”

The auto firm has founded a special company for its retirees: they are given limited-term, contract-based projects.

Their salaries are like those they had before retirement.

Jochen Michalczyk: “If you still feel good at 67, what speaks against it?

It’s fun.

I don’t have to; I’m allowed to.

Gunther Schmidt, 68 Years Old, Expert for Daimler: “For people who feel fit or healthy, and still enjoy working, there should be possibilities for them to continue. They shouldn’t be rigidly forced to retire at 65 or 67.”

German law stipulated that foundry master Gunther Schmidt initially had to retire when he turned 65.

Then auto manufacturer Daimler brought him back to help with a major project.

Today, he works as a senior expert, working together with a young colleague. He passes on the knowledge he gained during about 50 years of professional experience.

Gunther Schmidt: “If you approach people and feel a positive resonance and are respected, rather than running around here like a clown, then it’s a lot of fun.”

There are now about 500 pensioners in Daimler’s pool of experts. Their contracts are limited to a maximum of six months.

James Vaupel: Director, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Development: “I’m 69 years old, and I’m going to continue working here in Germany until the end of 2016. And then I’m going to work in Denmark. In Denmark I’m allowed to work as long as I am able to as a professor.

Many people who retire early are going to get bored, watching television all day long, especially if you are retired and retired for five years, maybe it’s fun. But if you’re retired for 10 years . . . 15 years . . . 20 years . . . 30 years . . . it’s too long.”

James Vaupel is a demographics expert and heads the Max Planck Institute in Rostock.

He’s American by birth. He says the German retirement system is outmoded, and it’s claim to create fairness between the generations is absurd.

James Vaupel: “I don’t think it’s fair at all; it shows a lack of solidarity. It shows a lack of sympathy for younger people.

In the United States it’s flexible, so you’re not allowed to dismiss somebody from his or her job because of age.

You can only force someone to retire, if they are unable to do the work the person is supposed to do. As long as the person can do the work, he can keep the job.

So in the United States, I can work for as long as I wanted to.”

Will that be possible in Germany one day?

Jochen Michalczyk and Gunther Schmidt would welcome it. They can imagine continuing to work for a long time, even though they are both around seventy.

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1. There is some hypocrisy in the retirement system. Is this correct or wrong?

2. Jochem, the IT expert is working again after he had retired. Why is he working again?

3. He tells younger workers to address him as “Mr. Michalczyk.” Is this true or false? Why does he introduce himself by his first name?

4. What does German law stipulate?

5. Do the senior experts work at Daimler permanently?

6. James the demographer thinks early retirement is boring. Yes or no?

7. How does he compare the US and German retirement system? Which does he like better?
A. When do people in your country usually retire? At what age do people retire? Is this the law?

B. At what age would you and your friends like to retire?

C. What are the demographic trends in your society?

D. Should people be allowed to work for as long as they want? What are the pros and cons of this?

E. What will happen in the future?

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