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Strategic Futures Planning

Strategic Futures Planning

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07/10/2013

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Conscious that Scotland will have an
increasingly ageing population in the future,
‘positive ageing’ has been a core theme
running throughout the forum’s project work
throughout 2006. The Parliament’s Equal
Opportunities Committee spokesperson on
ageing, Sandra White MSP, explained the
importance of the ageing study:

“The fact that by the middle of this century
over one third of Scotland’s population will
be over 50 years old, presents massive
challenges for policy making today. It is vital
that Scotland develops initiatives and
policies to ensure older people have the
opportunity to positively contribute to society
in the way they want. That is why Scotland’s
Futures Forum futures study into positive
ageing has been so important; to get policy
makers thinking now about the positive
impact having an older population could
make and to challenge government and
businesses to prepare the way. The forum’s
ageing project is a good piece of work
which has used creative methods to
stimulate a positive debate in Scotland.”

The Forum Project Board, led by Lord
Sutherland, developed a hybrid futures
approach, using various techniques. The
‘learning to emerge’ was considered
through a scenario exercise, published in
January 2007. Here are some of the
sessions that contributed to the development
of the forum’s positive scenarios.

Power to the people
“If you love your Granny, don’t buy her a
computer for Christmas!” was the feeling of
one older person attending the forum’s
‘Power to the People Conference’. The event
saw 150 elderly people in the parliamentary
chamber discussing how older people can

better participate in public life and describe
how older people are a real asset to society
and not the burden they are often portrayed
to be. Her point was that many older
people increasingly feel alienated by the fast
pace of change and usage of technology.
The forum believes many older people
would appreciate help, particularly around
the internet, texting and digital television; for
example, ‘peer training’ schemes and inter-
generational schemes, where young people
teach older people about technology in
return for advice on life issues.
This conference heard from SAGA, The
POWER Inquiry, DWP, Anti-Apathy, Microsoft
and Ofcom. Some very interesting points
came from this lesson around the barriers
that older people experience in engaging in
decision-making processes.

The drama of getting older
During stage three of the forum’s project
into Positive Ageing, the Foxtrot Theatre
Company was commissioned to produce an
interactive play that would help stimulate
discussion with community groups. The
audience was very open and some
interesting findings came from the sessions.
In general, people were quite optimistic
about getting older. An overwhelming
majority felt their generation had a better
time of it than their parents’ generation.
However, an overwhelming majority felt their
children’s generation was not likely to have
as good an old age as they themselves
would. This perhaps reflects a sense of what
some commentators have described as ‘a
golden age of seniors’, arguing that as the
largest and wealthiest consumer group there
is a lot to look forward to for them.
However, younger generations did not have
so much to look forward to, for example,
inability to afford proper housing, loss of
professional pension, the changing nature of

60

The Scottish Futures Forum

Strategic Futures Planning

‘family’, etc. The play told the story of a
couple, Bill and Shirley and her friend
Christine. The play profiled each of the
characters, all with different attitudes to
ageing. As a couple Bill and Shirley had
very different views on retirement and their
relationship started to suffer. Christine, while
worried about health in older age, was
determined to live an active life, and spend
her savings travelling to see her family in
New Zealand. By the second scene, the
play moved on to profile the characters in
2026. Shirley had had a stroke and Bill
was her carer. Christine was living in
sheltered accommodation. The scene
describes a very positive conversation
between the three via digital television. The
play ‘paused’ between each scene and,
through a facilitator, drew the audience into
a discussion. The actors, in character, also
entered into the discussion. As a
participation tool, the theatre proved very
powerful.

Attitudes to retirement
There was a real sense that preparing for
retirement took time. The shift from work to
retirement was massive, often sudden and
abrupt. Most people felt things need not be
that way. More care and attention should be
taken to help people move from work to
retirement over a phased period. People felt
employers should take more time to prepare
their staff for retirement, as much as ten to
15 years ahead of actually retiring. People
wanted to see reduced hours options,
flexible working, time off for volunteering,
and the chance to find new interests and
skills outside working life. There was a
genuine mixture of opinion about working
beyond retirement. Some very much looked
forward to it, as the character Bill said, “If I
never see another column of numbers
again, I would be happy”. Others for either

social or financial reasons wanted to
continue working or try something new, like
start their own businesses. According to
Barclays Bank, the number of middle-aged
people starting businesses has grown by
50% over the past decade and now
accounts for almost a quarter of new
businesses. This variance in opinion reflects
the forum’s belief that government and
business should look together at how to
provide a range of options for people
making the transition in work from their 50s
to 60s and 70s, to ensure they can make
the right choices for themselves.

A business perspective (possibility spaces)
The forum has been conscious of a dearth
of information on how Scottish businesses
are preparing for an older population, and
workforce. Using a ‘possibility space’
technique, the forum brought together a
number of businesses to consider their
attitudes to pensions, employment
practices, finance and the environment. The
possibility spaces produced a very rich
dialogue with business and their conclusions
helped inform the finding of the overall
ageing project.

An academic perspective (Delphi exercise)
The forum commissioned a Delphi
exercise, where three respected academics
from Scottish Universities were asked to
give their futures view of ageing. The
essays concentrate on three key areas
and heavily influenced the forum’s
ageing project.

An overall philosophical view of ageing
in the future.
An economic view of ageing in
the future.
A learning and training perspective of
ageing in the future.

Strategic Futures Planning

The Scottish Futures Forum

61

Young Time Lords face the future (gaming)
In October 2006, through a series of gaming
and drama exercises, the forum worked with
100 young people aged between 14 and 18.
With Young Scot, a very dynamic and
successful organisation, the forum spent the
day discussing young people’s attitudes to
personal finance and getting older. It became
clear that young people understood the need
for more financial literacy skills. It was
interesting to note that at the beginning of the
session, around 85% of the young people felt
they received sufficient financial literacy
education at school and over 90% of them
said they expected to have some kind of
pension provision by the time they were 40-
years-old. However, by the end of the day, it
became clear that very few of the young
people actually knew what a pension was,
and many thought that the government would
provide them with a pension post retirement.
At the end of the session, over 80% of the
young people said they would welcome more
financial planning skills and education. Most
of the young people did not think they would
have personal debt, excluding a mortgage
and car, by the time they were 30 and yet,
over 90% of young people said, financial
planning was of little interest because it was
too far in the future. Over 50% said, if given
£1,000 today, they would spend the whole
sum on luxury goods. Around 45 per cent
said they would save a portion of the money.

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