La Laguna (Tenerife) (EFE).- The Canary Islands is not currently a friendly territory for the senior population, which, however, can revert to an “unbeatable” future if it does not waste the talent of this sector, since it also has a competitive advantage unmatched to become the preferred destination for tourism over 55 years.
They are part of the conclusions reached at a round table organized by the Mapfre Canarias Foundation on “senior-friendly territories, an opportunity for the Canary Islands”, in which business leaders, economists and university researchers participated this Monday to address the situation in this ambit.
In this regard, the director of the “Ageingnomics” Research Center of the Mapfre Foundation, Juan Fernández, has detailed the data of a study carried out by this entity regarding the Spanish senior economy in 2021, according to which 31% of the Canarian population is over 55 years old, a segment with an unemployment rate of 20%.
The Center does not focus on the senior population in its social or assistance aspect, but in a “positive” look and opportunities that avoids the stereotypes of passive people and that supports reality: the elderly are active, travelers and currently, the livelihood economic of their families.
For this reason, companies are orienting their strategies to this consumer profile and in fact, the Center has prepared a “senior talent map” and programs aimed at entrepreneurs in this age group in collaboration with various university centers in the country.
This should go hand in hand with a new approach that promotes the simultaneous collection of the pension and work, something that is currently complicated despite the fact that, Juan Fernández has stressed, it is not convenient for the economy or healthy for the individual who spends hours “from one hundred to zero”, from active work to retirement, and has demanded flexibility to prolong working life by combining it with retirement, always voluntarily.
“There is a misconception that it is necessary to retire for others to come, when work is not a closed compartment and what does not make sense is wasting senior talent, their advisory capacity, an asset that cannot be wasted”, has underlined.
A statement with which the president of the CEOE of Tenerife, Pedro Alfonso, has agreed, for whom it is also essential to find a formula to combine “the drive” of the youth with the ability of senior workers and thus, he declares, ” we would be more competitive” because now “we are losing opportunities”.
A fundamental part of this situation is due to the lack of qualifications, a reality that the Canary Islands carry and which means that it is one of the communities with the lowest pensions in the country. A situation that, as Juan Fuentes Tabares, president of JFT Comunicación, recalled during his speech, is due to the fact that the islands started with enormous indicators of illiteracy.
In fact, the level of training of the senior population in general in Spain and Portugal is lower than that of the rest of the European countries, for which reason the Minister of Employment, Socioeconomic Development and External Action of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Carmen Luz Baso, has pointed out that the training and requalification of these profiles is essential and that in this age group training must be paid.
58% of the unemployed in the Canary Islands are over 45 years of age and their low qualifications are related to the economic structure of the archipelago, based on the services and construction sectors, and this in turn is an obstacle to their return to work.
For this reason, the Cabildo de Tenerife promotes programs aimed at training the unemployed over 45 years of age in new sources of employment, while “Neighborhoods for Employment” provides them with a personalized insertion path.
Because in addition, the digital gap in this segment of the population “is modern illiteracy”, pointed out the director of the Ageingnomics Research Center, a door to exclusion.
In this regard, the professor of Didactics of Social Sciences at the University of La Laguna Inmaculada Fernández has pointed out that the senior population is not being offered the services they demand, for example, occupational therapists and a specific offer of leisure and free time, but also training.
And regarding the latter, an opportunity is “microtitles if we know how to take advantage of them”, that is, short-term university degrees that could benefit “the gray power” of a part of the population that needs to requalify.
Lola Pérez, general director of the Chamber of Commerce of Tenerife, has pointed out that, although the social indicators place the Canarian seniors “at the tail”, taking advantage of the challenges of the economy for this segment open “a window of opportunity”, since the elderly are going to be “the star consumer”.
It is true that there are conditions: low wages will result in purchasing power and therefore it is a challenge to improve productivity, but the Canary Islands must face this challenge and those who propose the increase in online commerce and new lines of business in the field of health and housing for this population that, in the future, will lead to more demand for rent, since young people no longer see owning a home as a priority.
“We are behind other territories because the Canary Islands were mostly a young population and now the pyramid between 40-60 years has widened, clearly on the rise and with demand for leisure, culture, restaurants and trips with which to have good connectivity and competition is going to be essential”, continued Pérez.
And one last proposal that emerged from the table: prepare “zipper” electoral lists so that there are candidates over 55 years of age because, Juan Fuentes Tabares has had an impact, because in this way synergies can be established between senior and younger political profiles. EFE