Schröder suggests elderly take part in public service

With military reforms set to end both conscription and its alternative Zivildienst public service, Family Minister Kristina Schröder said Wednesday that Germany should harness the power of its ageing population to fill the volunteer gap.

Schröder suggests elderly take part in public service
Photo: DPA

Ahead of a two-day congress on how to handle the country’s demographic time bomb, Schröder said that a voluntary public service programme should be opened up to senior citizens as well as young people.

“Why shouldn’t a 67-year-old say, ‘Now I’d like to do a half-year of public service?’” she told broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur, adding that many pensioners want to be socially engaged, but often don’t know where to begin.

Today many people remain “remarkably healthy” and “fit” even into their eighties, Schröder said, which means we have all been given the gift of a completely new phase of life.

“This period of life, which is really new historically, is a real gift, and one which we must enhance,” she told the broadcaster.

Schröder also spoke about how ever fewer businesses can afford to count employees over 60 as old, calling the idea of early retirement a “terrible folly.”

“The future will go in exactly the opposite direction, where one will also want to hold on to the older workers too,” she said.


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