Demographic timebomb has already exploded

 Everyone, including the government, has assumed that what the working population wants is the choice to make their own decision over how to save for their twilight years.

So the latest survey by the consumer group Which? is a revelation. It shows that people believe employees should be forced to pay towards their own pension, with employers topping it up through mandatory contributions.

It is human nature to try to blank out unpleasant realities if they appear to be far in the future. Hence few of us can genuinely say we’re saving enough to support ourselves in retirement.

The temptations in a consumer-driven society are, after all, overwhelming at times. But it appears the stark facts have finally hit home: the state pension simply won’t be enough to live on. And employees have realised they need help.

If the Which survey is a true reflection of how people feel (and it should be, as a 2,000-strong study is a hefty sample group), then we should be going down the route of compulsory contributions.

All in all, action has to be taken, and fast.

This year, for the first time in history, the proportion of the world’s population aged over 60 will overtake those aged five or under.

By 2006 – that’s next year – 45-59-year-olds will become the largest single group in the workforce. By the mid 2030s, well over a third of the workforce will be over 50.

The ageing population is already upon us, and it poses significant challenges all round.

We’ve published our special report on pensions this week, just prior to the introduction of the Pensions Protection Fund.

This special section is designed to equip HR with the latest thinking, legislation and statistics surrounding this hottest of topics.

David Norgrove, the chairman of the Pensions Regulator, sets out the key issues and challenges ahead for HR professionals. Turn to page 19.

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