BANGALORE, INDIA – L. Basavraj, 60, lingers after a computer class at Nightingales Medical Trust, a nonprofit organization that works for the elderly in Bangalore, a city in southern India, where using initials for names is common. He is preparing for a job fair for senior citizens.
“I joined the computer classes here to learn computer and search for a new job,” he says.
He retired from his job in the transportation department of a software company.
"I left my job because I found it difficult to work for 12 or more hours per day,” he says.
But he now struggles to support himself financially.
"I very much need a job for financial aid,” he says. “I have two sons, but I do not want to beg for money. I want to earn for my own expenses."
He pauses before continuing.
"I hope to get a job in this job ‘mela,’” he says, referring to the fair.
This month, Nightingales Medical Trust held a job fair for senior citizens, a unique concept regionally and worldwide. Senior citizens who have retired say they need to go back to work in order to support themselves and have been taking classes to acquire new skills to increase their employability in today’s job market. Organizers say the job fair was a success. The event added to the trust’s range of services, from day care centers for the elderly to mobile medical services, which aim to empower senior citizens to enjoy dignified lives.
The retirement age in India is around 58 to 60 years old in India, says Dr. Radha S. Murthy, founder of Nightingales Medical Trust and one of its trustees. Both employees and employers make monthly contributions to India’s Provident Fund to save for retirement. But with inflation, many senior citizens say that the money is not enough to live on. Others who haven’t planned for their old age have no savings.
“In our country, around 87 percent of senior retired citizens do not receive pension,” Murthy says.
The trust offers a computer class to senior citizens in order to gain the skills they need in today’s job market.
Although computer class has ended for the day at the trust’s center, several senior citizens stick around after the instructor leaves. Eyes sparkle behind thick glasses as the students practice their new skills and help their classmates master the day’s lesson.
They say these skills are important as they prepare to seek new jobs at the fair held two days later.
K. Mohamed says he is looking to revive his career. The 68-year-old took voluntary retirement from his job as a mechanical engineer in 1994 for personal reasons.
At a counter inside the center, a counselor registers job seekers for the fair. She carefully listens to their queries and helps them to fill out the registration forms. In an hour, six or seven men come to register for the unique event.
Around 750 people had registered for the job fair two days before the event,