Peres: Israel Shouldn't Force Workers to Retire at Official Pension Age

90-year-old president says most people wish to work 10-15 years beyond retirement age and rejects notion that this would limit number of positions for younger people; also suggests English be taught in preschool.

People shouldn't be forced to retire when they reach the official retirement age, President Shimon Peres said last week.

Speaking at a Tel Aviv University conference called "The new elderly," Peres said, "Workers who reach the official pension age should be allowed to stay at their workplace if they are interested and should not be forced to retire, as is done today."

Peres, who famously practices what he preaches, had a much-covered 90th birthday celebration last month, in a massive event that drew celebrities and heads of state from around the world. (His actual birthday is in August. )

According to Peres, most people want to continue working for 10 to 15 years beyond the official retirement age, which currently stands at 67 for men and 62 for women.

He rejected the argument that letting older workers stay in the workplace would limit the number of positions available to people beginning their careers and would raise the unemployment rate among the young.

"More than pensioners, what's threatening the employment of young people is automization," said the president.

He proposed a compromise whereby people above the retirement age be allowed to work for six hours a day, as opposed to the eight hours that are considered a full workday for regular employees.

The other two hours could be dedicated to studies, including work training, he said.

Peres also suggested that children start learning English in preschool so that they would be bilingual by age 3, and that 12th graders intern two hours a day at high-tech companies in order to boost their workforce skills.

AP